Interdisciplinary training is a hallmark of the training provided by the Northwest Center for Occupational Safety and Health. Occupational health and safety is most effectively promoted when professionals with common foundational knowledge and goals combine their different skill sets to prevent and minimize the risks associated with the workplace. The training provided by the NWCOHS in exposure science (industrial hygiene), occupational medicine, occupational health nursing, hazardous substances management, and occupational health services is designed to provide these common foundational concepts, while also developing the specific skills associated with each of these professional disciplines. We accomplish these goals through a variety of interdisciplinary activities.
Coursework involving students and faculty from multiple disciplines. For instance:
- Recognition of Health and Safety Hazards in the Workplace: Brings students from each discipline to several manufacturing worksites and discuss in class approaches to control of observed hazards.
- Current Issues in Occupational Medicine, covering a rotating set of topics over a two year cycle, involves occupational hygiene and nursing students with occupational physicians in addressing special topics.
The weekly seminar hosted by the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences covers state of the art topics with a combination of UW faculty and outside speakers.
Once each quarter, the NWCOHS hosts an Interdisciplinary Research Seminar. Several speakers, including faculty and students associated with the Center, present their research activity to a broad-based audience allowing for a sharing research problems and methodologies used by the various disciplines.
Students in all programs are encouraged to attend a variety of professional conferences, many of which have an interdisciplinary focus. For instance:
- The annual meeting at Semiahmoo—a jointly held conference with the University of British Columbia—addresses issues of occupational and environmental exposure assessment and epidemiology.
- The Northwest Conference on Occupational Health (NOHC), is a long-standing regional conference sponsored by the NWCOHS, as well as the regional branches of the Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health Nursing, and Occupational Medicine professional societies. At this conference, students have the opportunity to interact with practicing professional in each of the core disciplines.
All students are expected to be involved in research activities as part of their training requirements. The research frequently has a multidisciplinary nature, and the advisory committees for the research often involve faculty supervisors from multiple disciplines.