Massachusetts Association of Occupational Health Nurses

Penny Clark's Occ Health Story

Posted 5 months ago by Nancy Clover

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My Story

Like so many of us I got into Occupational Health Nursing indirectly.  In 1990 I was working in an EAP, after working in a hospital Oncology Unit, when one of the it’s clients, Shawmut Bank,  was looking for a nurse to administer their new policy of pre placement drug testing which sounded interesting.  I applied and got my first taste of Occupational Health Nursing.  From Shawmut Bank I moved to St Elizabeth’s Medical Center initially in their Occ Health Clinic as well as going to Perkin’s School for the Blind and several Nursing Homes.  The last 2 years I was at St E’s I was the Employee Health Nurse.  I then went into the BioTech/Pharma world starting at Genzyme in 2000 and moving to Pfizer in 2013.


I decided to go into nursing just before my Junior year in high school when my mother suggested that as I did not have a job to try being a Candy Stripper at Down State Hospital in Brooklyn, New York—I remember her saying that as a lot of girls think about Nursing why not volunteer and just get that out of my system regarding what I would major in college.  (I am still forever grateful to those lovely older gentlemen who did not complain when I filled their funny looking metal bedside pitchers with fresh ice water.)  This was the beginning of the 1970’s when women were moving away from tradition roles and the comments I got from my school friends who had no real idea what nursing was all about were ‘But you’re smart and why not be a doctor’.


I have never regretted going into Nursing!  It has always felt it was more than a job and I am proud to be a nurse.  I have also never regretted getting into Occupational Health Nursing.  I went from taking care of patients to helping them learn how best to take care of themselves.


For Mentors:  Terry Donahue-while my 1st job was with Shawmut Bank-she was my manager in my 2nd job-at St Elizabeth’s Medical Center and I worked in the Occ Health Clinic and at Perkin’s School for the Blind.  Through this job and Terry I learned more job specific issues as well as seeing the whole variety of types of occupational Health issues as well

Jeanne Donahue-she is/was my go-to person whenever I got stuck—her experience and professionalism are outstanding!

Deb Benedetto-how to view Occ Health Nursing on a national basis and most importantly-how much I dislike giving presentations,

What does it mean to you to be part of MaAOHN? I am proud to be part of an organization whose focus is Occ Health and whose members are inclusive and happy to share vs being competitive and cut throat. I love that as OHN we are focused in helping folks learn to how best to take care of themselves.  It is also an opportunity to give back what was so generously given to me when I was new to Occ Health.  I have met some fabulous folks!



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