Generalized Public Health and Industrial Nurses Work Together


  • Margaret A. Schwem

Sarah E. Abrams, is Editor, Public Health Nursing, Department of Nursing, University of Vermont, 106 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Occupational health has been considered a subset of public health nursing for years. The first industrial or occupational health nurses were employed by large companies in the 1890s but the role evolved quickly in the early 20th century. By mid-century, many large companies employed a physician and nurse(s) to provide examinations, screenings, episodic care, and trauma intervention for workers. Occupational health nurses faced different problems than community-based public health nurses in generalized nursing service. The intersection of public health and employee health was apparent, though, because large industries often constituted the main workplace for a smaller community and sickness could spread throughout a town if the occupational health nurse was not well-prepared in principles of infection control and health promotion. Excerpts from this July 1949 article about building relationship between public health and industrial nurses illustrate the benefits hoped for when they were formally connected to one another through cross-training and in-service education. The author, Margaret Schwem, was a supervisor at the Rensselaer County Department of Health in Troy, New York. In the original article, Schwem included a list of reference materials for those interested in public health and industrial nursing.