The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, or the ABOHN as it is commonly called, is an independent board that exists for the purpose of certifying occupational health nurses as specialists in their field. As things stand at present, the board has more than 12,000 active certified nurses.
The board was set up 1972 with the aim of being a non-profit and independent organization with the duty of certifying nurses within the occupational health profession and thereby improving the standards of the profession. The two main goals of the board are to:
- Set professional standards
- Conduct occupational health nursing specialty certification
There are four certifications that you can receive through the ABOHN:
- Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN)
- Certified Occupational Health Nurse – Specialist (COHN-S)
- Case Management (CM)
- Safety Management (SM)
According to the website, the board uses “use predetermined standards of nursing practice to validate an individual registered nurse’s qualifications, knowledge and practice in specific areas of occupational health nursing”.
Eligibility for Certification through the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses
COHN And COHN-S Handbooks
There are two examinations that you can choose to take in order to become certified, namely the COHN or the COHN-S. The ABOHN offers downloadable COHN or COHN-S handbooks that are extremely useful in helping you to prepare for these examinations. These handbooks will provide you with the “Blue Print and Core Content” for each exam. Essentially what this means is that you will be given an idea of the layout of the exam paper as well as essential information regarding what topics are actually likely to be covered in the exam. This is an essential tool for ensuring that you do as well as possible when it comes time to take the final exam and become certified as an occupational health nurse.
Note: COHN stands for “certified occupational health nurse”
Certification differs from licensure because it is voluntary and is based on professional knowledge and expertise in a specialty, rather than on assuring the public of safe practice (as is the case with licensure). By becoming certified an individual shows the following:
- A commitment to the specialty
- A commitment to continued professional growth and development
The ABOHN bases its certification criteria on the professional standards for occupational health nursing as laid out by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN). If you would like to find out more about what this specifically entails you can get a complete copy of the document in which the standards are laid out comprehensively directly from the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses:
AAOHN National Office is located at:
7794 Grow Drive
Telephone (850) 474-6963 or (800) 241-8014
We have spoken about the COHN examination and the COHN-S examination, but what, really, are the differences between the two?
The COHN qualification is available to nurses who have an Associate, a Diploma or a higher degree and has a strong focus on clinical care. In addition to clinical care it also touches on the role of advisor, coordinator and case manager.
The COHN-S qualification, on the other hand, is available to nurses who a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This qualification focuses more on the roles of management, education, and consultation and case management in addition to direct care.
The examination that you prepare for will depend largely on what aspects of occupational health nursing you are most interested in becoming specialized in and what direction you would ideally like your career to take within this specific nursing specialty.
About COHN And COHN-S Certification
There are a number of steps involved in gaining both COHN and COHN-S certification through the American Board of Occupational Health Nursing:
- The first step involves becoming aware of and then meeting all of the eligibility requirements for each of the separate qualifications
- If you meet the requirements for taking the exam, you will then to need to get a passing score on that exam
- Upon successful completion of the examination, a certificate is issued saying that you have met the standards for board certification as a Certified Occupational Health Nurse or Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist and either the COHN or COHN-S credentials are awarded
- It must be noted that only those nurses who have met all of the criteria and have been successful on the examination and are in ACTIVE status are entitled to use these credentials
About The Examination
An RN license is required in order to take either of the certification examinations. For the COHN examination no educational requirements are specified, but for the COHN-S certification exam you must have Bachelor’s Degree or higher.
Work experience in occupational health for taking the COHN exam is as follows:
- 3,000 hours in occupational health in the past five years; OR
- Completion of a certificate program in occupational health nursing for academic credit
Work experience in occupational health for taking the COHN-S exam is as follows:
- 3,000 hours in occupational health in the past five years; OR
- Completion of a certificate program in occupational health nursing for academic credit; OR
- Completion of a graduate level of education with a concentration in occupational health
More information related to the examination can be found by visiting here.
In order to maintain your status as an ‘active’ certified occupational health nurse you will need to seek recertification once every five years. According to the website, you must have one of the following to meet the occupation health care nurse recertification requirements:
1. Occupational health nursing experience (being actively engaged in occupational health nursing for compensation).
2. Alternative credit for occupational health nursing employment may include:
- 2,000 hours of experience credit that may be granted for occupational health graduate study completed in a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) funded Education and Research Center (ERC).
- 750 hours of experience credit that may be granted for time spent in a baccalaureate completion or a non-occupational health masters program.
However, there are in fact a number of other parameters that you will need to keep in mind, which you can find out more about at http://www.abohn.org/recertification.cfm.
As like most other nursing associations, the ABOHN offers a number of awards specifically for nurses who have achieved well during the certification examination. There are a number of awards offered by the association that you could earn if you meet the specific requirements for each award. The four awards that are currently available are:
- The Mayrose Snyder Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award.
- The Marguerite Ahern Graff Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award
- The Ada Mayo Stewart Excellence in Occupational Health Case Management Award
- The EBRA L. FISCHER GIBBON SAFETY MANAGEMENT AWARD
These awards are offered on the basis of certification testing. In order to receive the award you must meet the specific eligibility requirements for each individual award before applying. In order to find out more about these excellent award opportunities, please visit this site.
Why Become Certified?
The website of the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (http://www.abohn.org/) states the following as the top reasons for becoming certified as an occupational health nurse:
- Certification is a mark of prestige.
- Certification is a significant personal and professional accomplishment.
- Certification can advance your career.
- Certified OHNs earn significantly more.
- Employers regard certification as a mark of quality and rely on certification when making employment decisions.
- The certified OHN provides knowledgeable management of occupational injuries and illnesses and facilitates early return to work processes.
- The certified OHN can reduce the employer’s legal exposure through management of regulatory requirements such as OSHA, FMLA, ADA, DOT, HIPAA, etc.
- Certification enhances your disease management and health promotion skills.
- Certified OHNs make a positive impact on the employer’s financial bottom line.
- Certification augments competence and on-the-job productivity.
Through the ABOHN you can receive the certification necessary to benefit from the above mentioned advantages and factors. Certification does not take a significant amount of time at all, and in many cases you will struggle to find employment with your employer of choice if you do not have certification.
Earning certification comes with a number of advantages that are ultimately useful in advancing your career as an occupational health nurse. By taking a certification examination through the ABOHN you will improve your resume and also gain access to an increased number of employment opportunities. Recertification, in addition, only has to be performed once every five years, and the board, once again, provides a number of easy methods and guidelines that you can use in order to recertify quickly and without any trouble. If you are interested in finding out more about the ABOHN, please use the contact information below:
Telephone: (630) 789-5799 Toll Free (888) 842-2646
FAX: (630) 789-8901
Postal address: 201 East Ogden Avenue, Suite 114
Hinsdale, IL 60521-3652
Electronic mail: For General Information: firstname.lastname@example.org