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Developing and delivering a FOM Diploma in Occupational Health Practice for Nurses

By iOH

Published 25 May 2023

We spoke with Professor Ira Madan and Dr Vaughan Parsons from the London Centre for Work and Health and Dr John Ballard and Mrs Marcia Stein from the At Work Partnership about their involvement in developing and delivering OH education and training to aspiring nurses who are interested in pursuing a career in occupational health (OH), with our particular interest in the new Diploma in Occupational Health Practice course (DipOHPrac) which they ran in early 2023.


So, what’s the background to this course and why is it relevant to nurses interested in a career in OH?

In 2022, the London Centre for Work and Health and the At Work Partnership teamed up to develop and deliver the new Diploma in Occupational Health Practice course which was based on the new course syllabus accredited by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM). As a registered course provider, our two-week intensive course is specially designed to equip delegates (registered nurses) with OH foundation knowledge and practical skills to deliver core OH services and support to clients and employers. The course is structured around three core elements which reflect OH service provision and practice. It is delivered by a team of subject matter experts including senior OH nurses, consultant occupational physicians, occupational respiratory and occupational psychiatry specialists and other experienced health professionals.

  1. Fundamentals of OH Practice: The framework in which OH operates, the importance of OH law and ethics, and how to conduct a comprehensive workplace risk assessment in theory and practice.
  2. Effects of work on health: Focused on establishing a working/provisional diagnosis of occupational condition(s), approaches for assessing fitness for work and recommending appropriate work adaptations.
  3. Clinical case management: Practical strategies on how to effectively assess and manage OH cases.

We also embedded practical small group work sessions (facilitated by experienced OH nurses and physicians) to consolidate and apply learnings to practical case scenarios, and to enable delegates to practise how to conduct workplace risk assessment. Additionally, in preparation for the FOM examination, we also ran a revision day which included practise examinations (multiple choice questions and oral exam), with 95% of delegates from successfully passing the mock MCQ examination during the revision day.

The course prepares students to undertake the FOM examination upon completion and to gain a recognised OH qualification (DipOHPrac). Although, it is worth pointing out that the qualification is not recordable with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and will not enable the use of the title Specialist Community Public Health Nurse Occupational Health (SCPHN OH).

Our first course was a great success and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both course delegates and our course facilitators

“Fantastic and inspiring”

“Extremely informative course, I have learnt so much… I am so glad I did this course and would recommend this to everyone.”

“Very well organised, with a fantastic array of topics covered. Speakers were very knowledgeable and helpful”

It was empowering to see the nurses grow in confidence over the course to become skilful, knowledgeable and independent occupational health practitioners by the end of their course.

Throughout this comprehensive and interactive course, the students clearly demonstrated that they had gained valuable knowledge and a solid introduction to Occupational Health practice.

The course offered a fantastic opportunity to learn the core skills of the occupational health nurse role and have these skills formally assessed for the assurance of their professional practice, their patients, and employers.  I was very encouraged to see the student's enthusiasm and engagement in promoting good health at work and it benefits.

We have tailored the course so that it is suitable for any nurse, even if they have no experience of occupational health practice. We start with the fundamentals in week one, and gradually build upon that knowledge in week two. There are plenty of opportunities to ask questions and the course is designed to be interactive to facilitate knowledge transfer.

So, when the next course

 4-8 Dec 2023 (week 1) and 15-19 January 2024 (week 20). With a revision day in April 2024 in preparation for the FOM examination.

The course can be booked through the At Work Partnership

So, are there new developments with the course?

Currently, the course is targeted at aspiring nurses who are interested in transitioning into a career in OH or for OH nurses who wish to gain enhanced knowledge and skills in OH. However, we are keen to support wider strategic plans and efforts to grow the OH workforce for the future, so look forward to opening up the course to allied health professionals in the very near future. We see this an exciting opportunity for the OH specialty and workforce.

Ira Madan is Professor of Occupational Medicine at King’s College London

Vaughan Parsons is the manager for the London Centre for Work and Health and is an honorary senior research fellow at King’s College London. He is based in the OH Service at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust and overseeing the operational management and delivery of occupational research studies taking part across the NHS.

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