This week’s lettersFractals and the chaos theoryI write with regard to one of the questions raised towards the end of the OHconference in Edinburgh regarding the role of the occupational health nurse. Itseems some confusion and complexity exists as to what is taught on the courseand the application of such within the actual work environment where the (OHN)practices in relation to role. I think we have to accept that the role is dynamic and changing; it moveswith the pulse of the organisation or work culture. Nevertheless, this questionactually made me think of the correct definition of the OHN. The original definition has stood for more than 50 years and was defined ata meeting between doctors and representatives of the World Health Organisationin Geneva in 1950. In summary it basically states that OHNs ensure health isnot damaged by work. Due to changes in the work environment and in work culture I think thedefinition of the role should also change. It would be difficult to define allthe skills an OHN has or to list them all. That would be an essay in itself.This brings me to my interest in fractals and chaos theory and the use of theseterms in trying to define the OHN. So what are fractals? Fractals can be anything that contain self-similarimages within itself. For example, the body’s circulatory system is a fractal.If you look at the blood vessels in your hand, they represent the overall shapethe system takes on. A mathematician would conclude that fractals are createdat the boundary between chaos and order. Chaos theory states that everything is subject to so many variables that itbecomes almost, but not completely, random. There is no way of predicting allthe variables (reflecting on the OHN role) and anticipating what is going tohappen next, because any small change can be amplified until it has a largerimpact on other things within the role. There are billions of variables but fractals are not completely chaotic,they do have an order that keeps them from being totally chaotic or totallyorderly. I think, therefore, the dynamic ever-changing role of the occupationalhealth nurse has to be defined as a fractal as the role cannot be definitivelydefined. I hope I have clarified some of the complexity. John Walker Student, Glasgow Caledonian UniversityAre bad manners the norm?Recently I have been short-listed for two Occupational Health posts. In both cases a period of more than four weeks has passed without anynotification from either of the companies. I take it that I have beenunsuccessful. I have travelled a total of 150 miles for one interview and used two daysholiday between the two applications. I am now wondering if it was really worththe effort. I am interested to find out if anyone else has experienced this problem andis it now the norm for companies only to contact the successful candidate? Name and address withheld LettersOn 1 Aug 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.