Medical Doctors (MDs) have completed study at the college level and training at an accredited school. Licensed MDs have passed the National Medical Board Exam or equivalent examinations and have a license to practice within a given state(s).
Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) graduate from college and an osteopathic school approved by the American Osteopathic Association. They must pass a state board examination to qualify for a license to practice within a given state(s).
Occupational Medicine Physicians are medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy who have completed additional occupational medicine training or acquired on-site experience. Completion of additional residency training and further practice in occupational medicine enables physicians to pursue certification in occupational medicine after meeting rigorous qualifying standards and successfully completing an examination in occupational medicine given by the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM).
Registered Nurses (RNs) receive training and education at the college level and graduate from a state-approved school of nursing. They pass a state board examination and are granted a license to practice within a given state(s).
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who are licensed in their state and have completed formal advanced education, usually at the master’s level. NPs practice under their state Nurse Practice Act. Some NPs are certified in occupational health as a specialty area. NPs independently perform many health evaluation and care activities—including physical exams, common diagnostic and laboratory tests—and diagnose and treat employees who are ill or injured. They also can prescribe medications in most states. Additionally, NPs work collaboratively with physicians.
Occupational Health Nurses (OHNs) are registered nurses and nurse practitioners with experience and additional education in occupational health. Certified occupational health nurses (COHN or COHN-S) obtain certification from the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses after meeting rigorous qualifying educational and experience standards and successfully passing an occupational health nursing examination.
Physician Assistants (PAs) provide services with the supervision of a doctor of medicine or osteopathy. PAs may perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, prescribe medications in most states, and plan and implement therapeutic interventions. PAs must graduate from an accredited physician assistant’s program, pass a national certification exam, and be licensed by the state. Some PAs specialize in occupational medicine.
Other Health Care Providers
Other health care providers include licensed practical or vocational nurses and emergency medical technicians. Traditionally, these individuals are not licensed to practice independently. They have specific training and are usually certified or licensed by the educational institution where they received the training. Sometimes the state licenses or certifies these providers and usually the state’s scope of practice outlines the specific work restrictions for these individuals. For example, usually these providers are required to work under the supervision of, or implement orders given by, licensed health care professionals such as MDs, DOs, RNs, PAs, and NPs, except when delivering first aid.
Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (LPN/LVNs) graduate from a program of practical nursing and must pass the state board examination. They are licensed by the state to perform certain specific health care activities, under the direct supervision of a physician or registered nurse.
Emergency Medical Technicians/Paramedics (EMTs) are prehospital providers trained to provide specific and limited emergency care. Some EMTs receive advanced training to become paramedics, which allows them to perform more advanced emergency procedures. EMTs are authorized to perform their duties by standing orders or protocols from physicians. They respond primarily to injuries and acute illnesses on a temporary basis and are not independently licensed to provide other medical care.