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PRESS RELEASE: RMCOEH Occupational Health Nursing program earns first round of support from Weber State Faculty Senate

Unanimous vote for nursing courses underscores support for occupational health training

The Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health achieved a significant milestone in launching its Occupational Health Nursing post-baccalaureate certificate program this month, gaining approval from the Weber State University Faculty Senate for the nursing courses that are foundational to the program’s curriculum.

The vote approving the courses — 6010 Fundamentals of Occupational Health Nursing and 6020 Occupational Health Nursing Role Development — was unanimous.

Rieneke Holman, chair of Weber State’s Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing, has been instrumental in the creation of the program, leading logistical efforts and melding RMCOEH’s vision with Weber State’s policies and procedures. She said the vote is the result of tremendous effort undertaken by many people.  

“The School of Nursing faculty and staff have worked hard to create this program,” Holman said. “We are excited to partner with the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health to build and implement the Occupational Health Nursing program. Weber State prides itself on collaborative efforts and innovative learning, which underpin this program partnership.”

The final remaining step for RMCOEH to get the Occupational Health Nursing graduate certificate off the ground is an additional Faculty Senate vote on the new program, including three core and two elective courses proposed as part of the curriculum. The elective courses are currently taught to other RMCOEH trainees and cover multidisciplinary topics related to occupational health, including Occupational Epidemiology, Administration and Management of Health and Safety Programs, and Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene.

That vote is expected in mid-February. 

The anticipated affirmative vote will allow RMCOEH and Weber State to proceed with starting the program in time for the first cohort of nurses to enroll for the fall 2023 semester. The certificate program is targeted at trainees who hold a bachelor of science in nursing and aims to prepare them to pass the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. certifying board examination. Participants are required to take five courses totaling 15 credits to earn the graduate certificate.

The creation of the Occupational Health Nursing program is one of the first major initiatives stemming from RMCOEH’s statutory transformation into a first-of-its-kind partnership between Weber State and the University of Utah. Prior to 2021, the center operated solely within the University of Utah.

The partnership allows RMCOEH to benefit from the wealth of resources Weber State provides, as well as harness the university’s commitment to ensuring people of all backgrounds have opportunities to improve their lives — and the lives of those around them — through a world-class education.

The program will be housed in Weber State’s Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing, and faculty will have space in RMCOEH’s headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City. The School of Nursing is nationally recognized and has produced more than 7,000 graduates in its history.

Matthew Hughes, MD, RMCOEH’s deputy director, has been heavily involved in the monthslong effort to create the program. He said the strong support thus far from Weber State’s Faculty Senate underscores the importance of providing this training for nurses.

“Our region is in dire need of occupational health nurses, and RMCOEH, as well as our center Advisory Board and our state Legislature, are committed to filling that need,” he said. “We are eager for our first cohort of nurses to join our program and receive the tools to make a difference in the field of occupational health.”

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