Service before self

group of people discussing
NWCOHS occupational health nursing alum in Guam shares her career journey

March 25, 2024

“Where America’s day begins” is on a beautiful tropical island often described as a little rock in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. Guam is an American territory that Suzanne Dela Rosa Lobaton, MN, RN, COHN-S calls home. 

Recognizing the need

Guam is a remote island known to be a medically underserved and health professional shortage area with a dire need for healthcare personnel. On the island, there is a high prevalence of chronic medical conditions inherent to the Asia-Pacific region. Guam and its people would benefit from additional nurses and nurse practitioners to deliver the kind of quality patient care received by their counterparts in the continental U.S. As a result, Lobaton decided to pursue a career in nursing and support her community. 

NWCOHS occupational health nursing training

headshot of Suzanne Dela Rosa Lobaton
NWCOHS OHN alum, Suzanne Dela Rosa Lobaton, MN, RN, COHN-S.

Lobaton graduated from the Master's Entry Program in Nursing at the UW School Nursing in 2008, specializing in Advanced Practice in Community Health Systems Nursing (APCHSN), with a focus in Occupational and Environmental Health, and with certification in Emergency Preparedness and Response. Lobaton attests that one of her greatest decisions was pursuing the Master of Nursing degree in community health systems nursing. She believes that there is great honor and privilege in helping others. This program has prepared her to take on challenges that impact individuals, worker populations, and communities. 

Supporting workers in her community

Immediately after completing her studies, Lobaton was excited to return home and has since held various positions in the field of Occupational Medicine, where she was able to apply her expertise. She has been serving as an Occupational Health Nurse (OHN) Supervisor and Program Manager in a military setting for nearly 13 years. Through the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN), she is a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist (COHN-S). Lobaton’s OHN training equipped her with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to work as a military OHN, where she is responsible for providing comprehensive occupational health services to a diverse range of worker populations. 

Interdisciplinary approaches to occupational health 

To advocate for worker health and safety and provide quality patient care, Lobaton affirms that OHNs must be flexible and demonstrate leadership qualities that allow them to communicate and engage effectively and develop trusting relationships with all members of the team including physicians, audiologists, industrial hygienists, safety specialists, management, and workers. As an OHN Supervisor, she provides oversight and management of clinic operations, OH programs, and delivery of OH services to workers assigned to various shore and fleet commands. Her job is to ensure the workers are healthy and safe when doing their job and that the workplace is not harmful to them.

 Leadership, policy, and advocacy

Lobaton has served in office and under various committees within the Guam Nurses Association, which is a state chapter of the American Nurses Association (ANA). This presented her with opportunities to represent her island’s nurses in advocacy and shaping policy at the local level and on the national stage. Lobaton gathered in our Nation’s Capital with over 400 other nurse leaders from across the country to demonstrate the power of advocacy firsthand. To help advance the nursing profession and advocate for worker health and safety, Lobaton met with members of the U.S. Congress to discuss key legislation and policy issues including the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, Protecting Providers Everywhere in America Act, and Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act. 

She was also able to take action and vote on critical issues that shape ANA’s focus and position statements about patient care, public health nurses, and student nurses. Lobaton is also an appointed nurse representative on the Guam Worker’s Compensation Commission where she helps adjudicate cases for injured workers. She continues to be empowered and inspired by these nursing leadership opportunities and the power of the nursing voice.

Opportunities for career growth

Through the years, Lobaton has experienced many challenges and opportunities providing her tremendous personal and professional growth and development. Her journey has been transformative and continues to be her source of motivation and inspiration. She received her Board Certification, has presented at local and national conferences, and held leadership roles on her organization’s Board of Directors. She also serves in a program directorship role for an occupational spirometry training program. 

Next steps 

The diversity in her countless opportunities and interactions, and the relationships formed along the way give Lobaton a genuine appreciation and understanding of service before self and the positive impact she and many others like her can have on the field of occupational health nursing. Her experiences have been instrumental in building her confidence and shaping her vision for better health care and patient outcomes in Guam. 

All of these subsequently contributed to her desire to take the leap into the next chapter of her professional career - the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) - Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, which she will complete in May 2024. This will expand her scope of practice to a provider role within OH nursing. She will then be able to prevent, manage, treat, and control workplace injuries and illnesses. The DNP degree also prepares her to implement evidence-based research into existing programs and services. 


To learn more about the Occupational Health Nursing program visit:


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