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Dairies of an... Occupational Health Nurse

Uncategorized 23 Mar 2022
Want to know what an OHN Does? Read their diary!  Meet Trudi Boss, our Occupational Health Consultant of the Year as she records her day in the office in sunny Mackay.


I arrive in the office after quick and painless 15-minute drive. After big-city living, Mackay is SO EASY to drive around. My first job is to log-in, check emails and calibrate the equipment in the clinic. I’ve got to get ready before the first appointments start arriving and it’s going to be a pretty busy day delivering pre-employment and health surveillance medicals.

Most people understand what a Registered Nurse in a hospital does. Being an Occupational Health Nurse is so different. They are worlds apart because I am dealing with happy, healthy people. The clients are generally happy to be there and they definitely aren’t sick.

After 20 years of hospital nursing where your life basically has to fit around the job, I have found a job that fits completely around my life. For the first time in my work life, I’ve been able to be flexible. I work set days and hours each week to fit around the school run as my little boy starts his first year in school. And because my time here is concentrated, my schedule is jam packed (just the way I like it!).

Every day is a little different here. Some health assessments only include a few basic tests and might take 15 minutes each, but a more comprehensive one might take up to 90 minutes. I could see between 5 and 15 clients in a day, depending on what kind of assessments they need to complete. Today is somewhere in the middle with 8 appointments. 


The first of many clients arrives. Each appointment begins with the medical history – history of prior illness, surgeries and anything else that might impact the ability for the person to do the job.

After years of working in acute settings, it actually took me quite a few weeks to realise that when a client said they didn’t have any medical history they probably weren’t lying.

These people are fit and well, they want a job and they want to be there.

After we go through their history, I’ll look at basic measurements like height, weight and blood pressure. When the applicant is able to void urine, I’ll do assessments of their urinalysis for kidney function and drug and alcohol screen; these assessments are all fairly standard.

This morning, some of my appointments will need additional tests like spirometry assessment (lung function), an audiology test (hearing) and a vision test. Sometimes the assessment I’m doing requires me to call on my ‘nursing kit bag’ – examination skills like auscultating heart and lung sounds, assessing their abdomen and a basic musculo-skeletal screen.

Some of these assessments I’ve learned since coming to KINNECT. For example, I’d done basic visual acuity distance testing before, but not looking at colour vision or near vision. For me, it’s important that I know how to do the test as well as what the results mean. I have been keen to learn what’s normal, what’s not, and why those things are particularly important for particular jobs. For me, education is a big part of a nurse’s job and having this knowledge helps me to explain the tests and the results to the clients so they get to better understand their own health.


It’s time for a short admin break to catch up on paperwork. I don’t always get a chance to have a break if an appointment runs over (multiple BP readings due to high BP), or someone returns a Non-Negative Drug test which creates a little more paperwork. Today, though, I’m going to enjoy a hot cup of tea while I’m at it!


A timely reminder to expect the unexpected. A very fit healthy-looking guy came in for a Pre-Employment medical but his blood pressure reading is very high (SBP 190-200mmHg). It’s a reminder that despite your age and health status, a high BP even if asymptomatic is a serious precursor for stroke and other conditions. This man will have to seek medical clearance before we can finish his assessment, so I talk to him about getting this checked with his GP before he comes back to us.

This situation reminds me how common it is here that candidates will come to us for their periodic medical and never see a doctor for any other reason. A quick little once over every now and then from me or one of my colleagues might be the thing to help them, or even save their life.

For example a Coal Board Medical is designed to look for signs of deteriorating health caused by working on a coal mine – one specific issue is Coal Workers’ pneumoconiosis or “Black Lung”.  A number of people have come to us for their Coal Board and an incidental finding on their x-ray has identified a tumour. This had nothing to do with what we were looking for, but it has caught something sinister lurking in their body before it became symptomatic. Crucially for them, it was caught early and treated, otherwise potentially it could’ve been a worse prognosis.


My day is almost done. It’s time to finalise my paperwork, send emails, restock and tidy rooms and get organised for more of the same tomorrow.


And just like that, it’s time for the school run. It’s not quite as exciting as an acute setting, but for people like me that value the consistency, and the amazing work-life balance, it’s absolutely perfect.


Want to make the move to KINNECT as a Occupational Health Nurse?

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