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Pivoting Professions: A Sport Physiologist’s Path into and up in Occupational Health

By Laura Jordan, PAM Group

Published 13 May 2024

Part 1 of our Progression – A career in OH series

Laura Jordan is Commercial Director at PAM Wellness, part of PAM Group, and has chartered a remarkable trajectory within the workplace health and wellbeing industry. From beginning a role in professional sport, to her current position as trailblazer in the wellbeing industry, Laura’s journey is one of determination and unwavering commitment to improving employee health and wellbeing and showcases how a degree in Sports Science can land you in Occupational Health!

The Early Years: Building Foundations

Fresh out of the University of Chester, and armed with a master’s degree in Sports Physiology, I started my journey by volunteering as an Assistant Sport Scientist with the England Handball Association, supporting young and upcoming athletes…far from the world of Occupational Health! Initially, I thought that I would have a career within professional sport, so I spent three years working with the England Handball squad, alongside two years supporting rugby league team, Warrington Wolves. I volunteered during both my undergraduate and post-graduate studying and I honed my skills as an applied practitioner and completed an Accreditation with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences in Physiological Support and became a Chartered Scientist. These experiences were a pivotal time, laying the foundation for future endeavours in the field.

Top tip: I was fortunate that I had a lot of applied experiences available to me during my studies. For me, it was important that I could apply the theory that I had been taught to different athletes; so, for anyone currently studying, my top tip would be to get as much experience as you can under your belt. Say yes to opportunities you’re presented with, certainly at the start of your career…even if it does sidestep into a different field!

Swapping Sports Jersey’s for Stethoscopes

In May 2014, I joined Nuffield Health, a leading name in the health and wellbeing industry, and began applying my practical skills from university by delivering health screening, workshops and health promotion events, as a Health & Wellbeing Physiologist. I changed direction from sport to public health after seeing a job advert for a Physiologist and decided to try my hand with the ‘general population’.  Here, I completed a Level 7 Advanced Professional Diploma in Health & Wellbeing Physiology; learnt how to conduct and read electrocardiograms; discovered how to run a pathology laboratory and conduct in-house testing, and became familiar with audits with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Working alongside Health Assessment Doctor’s and GPs was a great privilege in understanding corporate health and wellbeing, and allowed me to support one of the UK’s supermarket giants with their provision of health and wellbeing support for colleagues.

Rising Through the Ranks at PAM Wellness

After two and a half years with Nuffield, I joined PAM Wellness, part of PAM Group, known for its holistic approach to complete occupational health (OH) and wellbeing provision. I joined the business in a team of two, and a Health & Wellness Expert covering the South of England and support PAM’s clients with proactive health and wellbeing support which included delivering workshops, webinars, and health screening. This was my first time working with a multidisciplinary occupational health team…in fact, my first time working in occupational health at all! It was interesting to learn about workplace health and the role of OHA’s (Advisors), OHN’s (Nurses), OHT’s (Technicians) and OHP’s (physicians), but to also begin shaping how OH and physiology could work together. As a Physiologist, we’re skilled in screening to determine one’s health and wellbeing status, but then trained in motivational interviewing and lifestyle prescription i.e. how can we support someone’s health and return to work through their nutrition, physical activity, stress management and sleep hygiene, to name but a few, whilst still trying to reduce disease risk and improve overall health. Often, the role of a health and wellbeing physiologist within occupational health can be overlooked, but our focus is on prevention rather than cure, and aiding employees with the tools to take ownership of their health, through their lifestyle so there truly is a place for this role within the realms of occupational health. Employee health is so much more impactful when it’s viewed from all angles and by working closely with colleagues across multiple disciplines including occupational health, as well as psychological services, employee assistance programmes and neurodiversity solutions.

Innovation and Impact

One of the hallmarks of my career with PAM Wellness has been the agility and freedom to be creative and innovative with wellness programming, and being able to champion strategies that are not just aimed at improving physical fitness, but also mental wellbeing and stress management.

  1. Projects: One of my favourite projects has been developing, training and embedding Mental Health Champions for a Government Department – over 1200 Champions were trained when this project was rolled out in 2018-2020, starting in the Northeast, and then being widely recognised across England.
  2. Awards: In 2022, the our Wellness Team at PAM achieved the ‘Wellbeing Initiative of the Year’ Workplace Saving & Benefits Award for the implementation of DNA and epigenetics screening. This advanced testing allowed the team and I to take health screening one step further by truly analysing the blueprint of employee health by assessing their biological versus their chronological age, and addressing how the environment and individual’s lifestyle can change our DNA. This could also be an exciting development and the next frontier in occupational health and wellbeing.
  3. Speaking: I also enjoy presenting and delivering webinars for PAM Wellness and PAM Group, both single-handedly and with other disciplines to showcase the efficacy of health and wellbeing physiology more widely across the industry. Most recent examples include:

Mentoring the Next Generation of Health & Wellness Experts

Beyond my personal achievements, I am deeply committed to nurturing talent within the organisation and supporting other Physiologists with a career in Occupational Health. PAM Wellness started as a Team of two, and now has 20 clinicians in Corporate Health with wider colleagues in psychological and neurodiversity solution business units.

Following a successful internal training course, I have recently started implementing the PAM Elevate Programme – a career pathway designed to attract, retain, and grow PAM’s people right across the business, and help them not only progress within their own roles, but understand how they can grow within other disciplines. I truly believe that if you look after your employees, they’ll look after your clients (thanks for the quote, Richard Branson!), so this programme aims to show a genuine commitment to supporting employees reach their full potential and excel in their own roles.

In conclusion, I’ve been fortunate to land a career at PAM Wellness and showcase how physiology and occupational health can genuinely make a difference to employee health and drive proactive workplace wellbeing. When passionate people from different disciplines collide their expertise and passion, great things happen in the space of employee wellbeing!

 

Laura Jordan Headshot
Laura Jordan | Linkedin

Laura Jordan is Commercial Director of PAM Wellness, BASES Physiologist; Chartered Scientist; FRSPH with many years of experience in the world of Occupational Health and Wellbeing.

 

OH Today Volume 31 Issue 2 2023
Read original article here

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