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Occupational Health Nurses


The first occupational health nurses—or industrial nurses as they were known at the time—were Ada Mayo Stewart and Betty Moulder. In 1885, Stewart was hired by the Vermont Marble Company to care for its employees and their families. Betty Moulder performed similar tasks for coal miners and their families in Pennsylvania in 1888. By the 1900s, industrial nurses were employed in our nation's factories to diagnose and limit the spread of infectious diseases and to help employers reduce costs that were arising from workers' compensation legislation. The field grew steadily during the first half of the 20th century, and in 1942, the American Association of Industrial Nurses (AAIN) was created to represent the professional interests of these specialized nurses. (In 1977, the AAIN changed its name to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses.) The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created a strong demand for occupational health nurses at work sites. According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, today's occupational health nurses have expanded their duties beyond basic care to focus on case management, counseling and crisis intervention, health promotion, legal and regulatory compliance, and worker and work-place hazard detection.

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