During the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Conference, held April 17 in Reno, Nevada, Peter Mott, an occupational health nurse at Ireland Army Health Clinic, received the Debra L. Fischer Gibbon Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing award. It is a prestigious honor presented annually to the occupational health nurse who receives the highest score--nationwide-- on the previous years Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist examination.

"Receiving this award is important for me because it shows the support and encouragement I received from my family, co-workers, and leadership to complete the test," Mott explained.

Mott said he spent six years in the Army as an enlisted radiological technologist. He also took night college courses which enabled him to earn a U.S. Army Green to Gold Scholarship to attend nursing school. He attended State University of New York at Brockport and received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing and his commission as a U.S. Army second lieutenant.

"I then spent 15 years as an Army Nurse Corp officer with 10 years of that as an Army Public Health nurse," he explained.

He later obtained his master's in Public Health from Western Kentucky University.

Today he is the clinical nurse officer in charge of Occupational Health at IRAHC, located on Fort Knox, Ky., where his job is to ensure the daily operations of occupational health. Those duties include completing medical surveillance exams, pre-employment exams, and return to work exams, fit for duty, and work site hazard identification.

"Training is a requirement for certified occupational health nurses to stay abreast of OSHA and (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) guidance," he noted. "OH nurses need to be NIOSH spirometry certified, (Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation) hearing certified, and Tri-service vision trained."

So, to successfully complete the COHN-S course is not just a feather in his cap, but adds another shining star to the IRAHC staff.

According to Col. Kathi Hill, the IRAHC and Fort Knox MEDDAC chief nursing officer, having staff members like Mott at IRAHC allows the clinic to provide better quality care to its patients.

"Equally important, by encouraging staff members such as Mr. Mott to reach for excellence like this, and allowing him the time to do so, we know we have more rounded staff and employees who can handle any challenge," she explained. "It only makes us stronger."

For now, Mott said he looks forward to using his new COHN-S certification to improve the clinic's services.

"The job I had (in the Army) and now are similar but one is for ensuring the welfare of Soldiers and their beneficiaries and occupational health is for ensuring the welfare of DoD civilians," he said. "I would encourage someone interested in a career in healthcare to look at occupational health because it is challenging and rewarding."

Note: The Debra L. Fischer Gibbon Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award was established to honor Debra Lynn Fisher Gibbon, a former Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist and Certified Safety Professional who lost her life on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001.