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3D Occupational Health Care: Successful Strategies for Successful Outcomes in a Complex World

DriverCheck’s Shannon Jacobi used some ‘hammer time’ to hammer home a message about the future of OHN practice at the AOHNA Symposium in Banff on May 30th.

Shannon’s talk, 3D Occupational Health Care: Successful Strategies for Successful Outcomes in a Complex World, focused on the strain industry workers are putting on the public health care system and the role OHNs can play in addressing the problem.

“Her speech was amazing,” said one occupational health nurse in the audience. “She vocalized a lot of issues that I have thought about but never felt were supported in our industry! There’s a lot of potential opportunity for our profession.”

Statistics from Alberta Health Services show the overwhelming number of non-urgent ER visits by workers from communities in Northern Alberta (including the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Cold Lake, and Peace River) suggest there is a compelling need for industrial health care delivery in remote locations.

“The numbers are alarming,” says Jillian Power, an Occupational Health Nurse at the University of Calgary. “To think that we already have such a taxed healthcare system, the size of the workforce is increasing and aging – it really puts things in perspective.”

Shannon says this trend will lead to a growing demand for OHNs and employers will struggle with recruitment, which means other healthcare professionals without the knowledge and experience in occupational health will be brought in to fill the gaps. She says this could lead to a corresponding drop in quality of care.

Shannon says there is a need to establish a regional approach to the provision of care that includes primary, public, and emergency health care, and that the scope of practice for nurses needs to expand. At one point during her talk she brought out MC Hammer and some over-the-counter medications to illustrate the need for regulations and guidelines to change.

Shannon says OHNs themselves will soon require a background in emergency services and she suggested colleges and universities work closely with the AOHNA to develop new programs that reflect this shift.   She also says OHNs must be given a place at the table to evaluate staff qualifications, accreditation, and health content for RFPs.

“I agree with the role Shannon envisions for OHNs in the future,” says Power. “OHNs have to be advocates to ensure health impact assessments are completed and that we are able to provide services to meet the needs of our population without putting extra pressure on an already taxed healthcare system.”

Shannon is the Manager of DriverCheck’s Remote Medical Services and President-Elect of the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses Association. She is an Occupational Health Nurse with BLS, ACLS, ITLS, and TNCC designations as well as a Safety Professional (CRSP) and has decades of experience in occupational health, having both managed and worked in remote medical centres and industrial clinics. She has also run several health care companies actively involved in the insurance and compensation industries, and provided consulting services for occupational health, safety and disability management. Shannon is a certified project manager, having achieved a certificate in project leadership from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. She has taught at both the University of Alberta and MacEwan University.