OEHN Student Profiles | Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center

OEHN Student Profiles


graeveCatherine Graeve

PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

Prior to enrolling in the doctoral program, I completed my MPH in occupational and environmental health nursing and found the courses fascinating. Before that, I worked in oncology and hospice as a nurse. I also volunteered in rural West Virginia with communities studying the health care delivery system and community public health.

What made you interested in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

I have always been interested in public health, and entered nursing school with that focus in mind. I worked for many years as a nurse in cancer care. I loved my job focusing on the care of patients and families, but also wondered about what could be done prevent such devastating illnesses. I wanted to learn more about environmental exposures, many of which happen in the workplace. Occupational health seemed like a logical place to focus public health prevention efforts.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The University of Minnesota is a dynamic institution with wonderful opportunities and amazing people.

 

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

While I am still exploring all the directions public health might take me, I am currently interested in teaching public and occupational health to nursing students after I complete my PhD. I would also like to be involved in local community health research around environmental exposure and health disparities.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from your internship or plan B research paper.

As an MPH student, I developed a return on investment tool for occupational health nurses employed by small businesses to use in order to “prove their worth” in a quantitative way. Exploring the business side of health was new to me and I discovered how important translating such important care into dollars is for management. It was also encouraging to see how helpful on-site occupational health professionals can be for workers, especially those without health insurance.

If you are a PhD student describe your dissertation objective and approach.

My dissertation will be an intervention study focusing on occupational exposure to chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is very important to patients who need it, but can be very harmful to those unnecessarily exposed. I worked with Fairview Hospital to survey healthcare staff, sample areas in the environment for chemotherapy residue, and develop and implement a quality improvement intervention to potentially improve worker health and safety. Two publications that reported study findings include:

  • Graeve C, McGovern P, Alexander B, Church T, Ryan A, Polovich M. Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic Agents. Workplace Health & Safety 2017 Jan;65(1):9-20.
  • Graeve C, McGovern P, Arnold S, Polovich M. Testing an intervention to decrease healthcare workers’ exposure to Antineoplastic Agents. Oncology Nursing Forum. 2017, 44 (1):E10-E19.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

This is a fabulous learning opportunity with excellent professors, support staff and fellow classmates.

JoshGramlingJosh Gramling

PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

I worked as a staff nurse from 2004-2009 in a variety of inpatient clinical departments at several hospitals. In December of 2015, I graduated with a master’s of science in public health nursing at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing.

What made you interested in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

I am passionate about prevention of health insults, and occupational and environmental health nursing appealed to me most, as it has career opportunities that are very concrete in the field where I can work on projects, as well as have research opportunities that further my goals.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

When deciding on a graduate program, I looked at schools that had a strong reputation for graduate public health education. Although I worked in inpatient nursing I was interested in changing to a more public health-focused career path. The School of Nursing and the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota offered a dual Master’s in Nursing and Public Health, which was the driving impetus for me to apply to this school. In the end I decided on pursuing a PhD in Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing after I finished my Masters of Science in Nursing.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

From 2009 to 2015 I worked as a clinical educator and supervisor on the Surgery, Trauma, and Neurological Sciences Unit at Hennepin County Medical Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center. From 2015 to the present I manage the employee occupational health department at the same institution.

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

I am undecided. I intend on becoming a professor at some point, but I would like to work more in the field of public and occupational health before pursuing a professorship. I plan to finish the PhD in the winter/spring of 2017 and will begin a search of jobs at various international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), federal programs, and other international institutions such as the World Health Organization, to gain employment abroad. The net I will cast could include private industry, but it will depend on what jobs are available.

If you are a PhD student describe your dissertation objective and approach.

For my dissertation, I am researching injuries to hospital security guards. This is an occupational group that has received very little attention in the literature, yet has perhaps the highest rate of violence-related injuries in any field. Specifically, I am investigating whether the carriage of conducted electrical weapons (the most famous being TASER) decreased the rate of violence-related injuries among this occupational group. Publications related to my dissertation include:

  • Gramling J, McGovern P, Nachreiner N. A Mixed methods inquiry into the injuries sustained by security guards at a level 1 trauma hospital. Associations of Occupational Health Professionals in Health Care. 2013. Dec: 1-7.
  • Gramling J, McGovern P, Church T, Nachreiner N., Gaugler J. Effectiveness of conducted electrical weapons to prevent violence-related injuries in the hospital. Journal of Emergency Nursing. 2017 Jul 27. pii: S0099-1767(17)30097-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2017.06.008. (Epub ahead of print)

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I think this field is exceptional in terms of career potential, and the staff and faculty of the program are very supportive of students pursuing research interests. I was encouraged and given the opportunity to work independently abroad in India for my field experience, and have had no shortage of support in pursuing my research.

kilbrideKari Kilbride, RN, BSN, MPH

MPH Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

Prior to starting the program, I had worked in a variety of occupational health and employee health settings.  I managed a hospital-based employee health and wellness clinic, worked as an independent practitioner for a global company in a manufacturing based occupational health clinic, managed an occupational health clinic for a railroad, and finally directed an employee health department for a large senior housing organization.

What interested you in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

Like many other nurses that I know… I wound up in the field of OEHN a bit by mistake!  I have a degree in nutrition as well as nursing, and started out working in the field of public health.  This eventually led to a nursing education position in a health promotion department which wound up being a natural complement to my first job in an employee health and wellness clinic. I am passionate about nursing and wellness and look forward to continuing to advance the collaboration of the fields of safety and health.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I have been very involved in the local chapter of the Minnesota Association of Occupational Health Nurses (MAOHN), and many of my colleagues in this organization are alums of the U of MN’s MPH program.  The program, along with the NIOSH collaboration, has a wonderful reputation in addition to a strong cadre of faculty with a broad and deep knowledge in the field of occupational and environmental health nursing.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

Through my connection with the U of M MPH program, I was offered my current position as leader of four busy occupational medicine clinics serving the metro area of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

I am very content in my current position, however, will continue to look for ways to make a difference in the field of occupational and environmental health nursing.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from your internship or plan B.

I will be able to apply my knowledge to my job. For my masters project I passed the Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S) examination.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

This program has proven to be a great opportunity to continue to learn and grow in the field of occupational and environmental health nursing.  The faculty and staff are incredibly supportive and have been a true inspiration to me during my time in the program.  It has been wonderful to not only make connections with fellow nurses but also establish connections with others in the related fields of industrial hygiene, toxicology, epidemiology and occupational medicine.

Peter-Mitchell-finalPeter Mitchell, MSN, FNP, COHN-S

MPH Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing program?

My background included 25 years of long-term, inpatient, and ambulatory care of adults. Seeking greater responsibility, I completed the Family Nurse Practitioner track, Master’s degree program. This eventually led me to veterans’ health and professional practice in the excellent, local Veterans’ Administration system.

What interested you in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing?

Because the population approach of occupational and environmental health nursing encompasses the health and safety of people at work, it allowed me to serve at the intersection of the organization’s mission and all the individuals making this complex health care system work. Occupational and environmental nursing draws from multiple disciplines combining knowledge and skills.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health is a recognized leader in occupational health and safety education for the nation. Its accomplished faculty and dedicated staff especially impressed me.

What jobs have you held while working on your degree?

I am the Nurse Practitioner in Employee Occupational Health serving the Minneapolis VA Health Care System covering a workforce of approximately 5000 individuals in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

What type of job would you like to find when you finish your degree?

The intricacies of program design and management, planning, and policy development are beginning to interest me.

If you are an MPH student, describe what you did and your major learnings from your internship or plan B.

I anticipate continuing the work of predecessors to gain better practices for protecting nurses and others as they handle hazardous drugs.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

Explore whether you are ready to take your nursing career to this new level. I strongly recommend the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health for occupational and environmental health nursing at any stage of your career.

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