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Journal of Public Health Management & Practice

June 2005, Volume 11 Number 3 , p 235 - 243


  • Debra K. Olson MPH, RN
  • William H. Lohman MD
  • Lisa M. Brosseau ScD
  • Ann L. Fredrickson BA
  • Patricia M. McGovern PhD, MPH, RN
  • Susan G. Gerberich PhD
  • Nancy M. Nachreiner PhD, MPH, RN


A change from a quarter system to a semester system presented a convenient opportunity for faculty at the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (a 27-year-old National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health–sponsored education and research center) to evaluate the current curriculum. As part of this process faculty identified both individual and crosscutting competencies for four programs: Occupational Medicine, Occupational Health Nursing, Industrial Hygiene, and Occupational Injury Epidemiology and Control. Faculty identified potential competency sets using published literature, course objectives, and content summaries. Common themes, termed crosscutting competencies, were identified. Seventy program graduates (58%) responded to a survey designed to assess the value of, and proficiency in, these competencies based on their postgraduation job experience. All 29 crosscutting competencies were rated as valuable or very valuable by respondents in each of the four programs. There was less agreement between respondents in proficiency ratings, with 24 of 29 competencies rated either proficient or very proficient. Comparing value and proficiency provided an opportunity to further refine the curriculum and a model for enhancing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of future environmental and occupational health professionals. With further testing, we propose this set of crosscutting competencies be considered for adoption as a set of interdisciplinary core competencies for Occupational Health and Safety professionals.

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