Occupational health nursing education, practice, and research in Finland were discussed. The labor force in Finland numbers approximately 2.2 million. Finland has approximately 60,000 companies that employ around 1.1 million workers. Most of these workplaces are small, having fewer than 20 employees. Only about 120 companies have more than 1000 employees. The very large number of small businesses has created problems in organizing occupational health services. Companies provide occupational services either by employing the necessary occupational health personnel, purchasing the services from municipal health centers, or obtaining them from a private physicians' unit. The Finnish Occupational Health Care Act (OHCA) of 1979 requires that all companies regardless of their size, location, or type provide preventive occupational health care for the entire working population by the end of 1983. OHCA does not require, however, that employers duplicate the functions of the municipal health centers. Most large and medium sized companies in actuality provide both compulsory and voluntary health services. Educational requirements for occupational health nursing in Finland were described. There are approximately 1500 occupational health nurses in Finland. All have received primary professional education. Of these, about 70 percent have obtained a degree in public health nursing. Since 1982 all new occupational health nurses have been required to obtain this degree. Master's and doctoral degree programs are offered at the universities. The functions of occupational health nurses include surveying the workplace, conducting medical examinations, providing health education, providing first aid and care in cases of acute illness, and counseling. Every nurse has a full or part time physician as a workmate and supervisor. Occupational health nursing programs in Finland were described. Most research programs are oriented toward problem solving; very little basic research is done.
Proceedings of the National Occupational Health Nursing Symposium: State of the Art and Directions for the Future; Cincinnati, Ohio, June 1-3, 1983