Openness in Occupational Hygiene Professional Development

Morgan M. Bliss 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 65-92

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Continuing professional development is a foundational aspect of professionalism in health-related disciplines. For board-certified industrial/occupational hygiene (IH/OH) professionals, professional development is mandated as part of the code of ethics for practice. However, board certification in IH/OH and occupational health and safety is not required for professional practice in many countries, including the United States. This qualitative study involved a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to the lived experiences of IH/OH professionals who engage in professional development in the United States. This study was conducted to better understand the role of openness in IH/OH professional development, including the use of open educational resources (OERs) and open educational practices (OEPs) and the level of learning desired by IH/OH professionals who complete continuing professional development. Participants (n=11) were IH/OH professionals who engage in professional development and live and work in the United States. A 10-question semi-structured interview was conducted via Zoom regarding IH/OH experiences with professional development. A thematic analysis of interview transcript data was performed. The results provide insights about openness in the IH/OH professional community and how OERs and OEPs might be used for professional development. Findings revealed that IH/OH professionals may be reluctant to embrace the concept of openness, due to the potential financial impact on professional organizations, and indicated that the IH/OH community may not be ready for a public open scholar at this time. The aspect or level of learning desired by IH/OH professionals was also heavily linked to the career stage of the individual. There is a need for research to further explore the continuing professional development needs of early career and mid-career IH/OH professionals. This study provides opportunities for further study about openness in professional development for general occupational health and safety professionals, although this population is difficult to define or set parameters for.

Keywords: Career stage, learning transfer, industrial hygiene, occupational hygiene, professional development.