Objectives The competencies required of occupational physicians (OPs) and occupational health nurses (OHNs) separately have been studied in various countries but little research has made direct comparisons between these two key OH professional groups. Evolving OH practice and overlapping OP and OHN roles make it imperative that up-to-date competencies reflective of practice are established. The aim of this study was to compare current competency priorities between UK OPs and OHNs.
Methods A modified Delphi study conducted among representative networks of UK OPs and OHNs. This formed part of a larger Delphi, including international OPs. It was undertaken in two rounds (round 1- ‘rating’, round 2- ‘ranking’), using a questionnaire based on available OH competency guidance, the literature, expert panel reviews and conference discussions.
Results The principle domain (PD) competency ranks were very highly correlated (Spearman’s rho=0.972; p<0.001) with the same PDs featuring in the top four and bottom three in ranking. OPs and OHNs ranked identically for the top two PDs (good clinical care and general principles of assessment and management of occupational hazards to health). Research methods was ranked lowest by both groups.
Conclusions This study has observed a high level of agreement among UK OPs and OHNs on current competency priorities. The ‘clinically-focused’ competency priorities likely reflect that although OH practice will broaden in response to various factors, traditional ‘core’ OH activities will still be required. These mutually identified priorities can serve to strengthen collaboration between these groups, develop joint education/training programmes and identify common professional development opportunities.
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