The possibility of certification of occupational health nurses had been investigated for several years. In 1969, the American Association of Industrial Nurses formed a committee called the Inter Organization Committee for the Certification of Occupational Health Nurses to investigate and recommend a course of action regarding certification. Upon hearing the Inter Organization Committee's recommendation, the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) was established on May 21, 1971. The joint committee was composed of representatives from the American Association of Industrial Nurses (AAIN), American Academy of Occupational Medicine (AAOM), Industrial Medical Association (IMA), American Industrial Hygiene Association, (AIHA) and the Advisory Council of the American Association Industrial Nurses.
The initial funding for the organization was received from the American Association of Industrial Nurses. The amount given to the ABOHN organization was $9,000. These funds were repaid in the following years to AAIN. Many other organizations contributed to the establishment of ABOHN. The following companies provided funding for the newly established organization:
|American Can Company||Allis Chalmers Corporation||Bausch & Lomb|
|Burlington Industries||Campbell Soup||Exxon Corporation|
|Ford Motor Compamy||General Electric Corporation||Hercules International|
|IBM||International Telephone & Telegraph||Metropolitan Life|
|Mobil Oil||Pfizer, Inc.||Olin Corporation|
|Reynolds Metal||Scott Paper Company||Shell Oil|
|Standard Oil||Upjohn Company||U.S. Steel|
The joint committee selected twelve occupational health nurses for the organizing board. The committee based their selection on education, work experience and evidence of occupational health nurses contribution to occupational health nursing. These names are now legendary in the Occupational Health Nursing field.
|Marguerite Ahern Graff||Dorothy Benning||Marilyn Blakenship||Marie Carrell|
|Anita Harris||Jeanne Healy||Edna May Klutas||Jane A. Lee|
|Ann Murphy||Iva Edward Pleasants||Marjorie Schmidt||Sara Wagner|
The following information contains the chronological history of ABOHN, summarizing highlights of the organization's development and accomplishments.
- Twelve occupational health nurses were selected to become the organizing board for the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses.
- The first meeting took place on May 21, 1971.
- Marguerite Ahern Graff selected as the first Chair.
- ABOHN incorporated in the State of New York as a not-for-profit business league.
- First meeting of the corporation held on May 26, 1972.
- Applications accepted for Founders Status (certified by portfolio instead of examination).
- Draft of first certification examination developed.
- 983 occupational health nurses certified as Founders of ABOHN.
- Marjorie D. Schmidt (a former Board member) hired as the first Executive Secretary.
- First certification examination given on April 29, 1974, in Bal Harbour, Florida.
- 92 candidates sat for the first examination; 82 were successful.
1975 - 1977
- ABOHN, the American Nurses Association, and the American Association of Industrial Nurses (now AAOHN) held a summit meeting and issued a joint statement.
- After Marjorie Schmidt's resignation, Mayrose Snyder was named the second ABOHN Executive Secretary.
1978 - 1979
- First recertification procedures developed.
- First ABOHN Directory of Certified Occupational Health Nurses was published.
1980 - 1982
- Mayrose Snyder became the first Executive Director for ABOHN.
- First ABOHN newsletter published in March of 1981.
- Mary Louise Brown dedicated her book, Occupational Health Nursing: Principles and Practice's, to ABOHN.
1983 - 1984
- Original ABOHN logo copyrighted.
- First full role delineation study conducted.
1985 - 1986
- Reciprocity established with Canada for certification recognition.
- ABOHN records computerized for the first time.
1987 - 1989
- ABOHN Incorporated in the State of Illinois
- Mayrose Snyder announced plans to retire; Charlene Ossler selected as the new ABOHN Executive Director, taking office in 1989.
- The first Mayrose Snyder Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing award given to Georgia Knuth at the 1989 AOHC in Boston.
1990 - 1991
- Commitment to baccalaureate degree by 1995 made.
- ABOHN adopted AAOHN's definition of occupational health nursing and standards of practice.
1992 - 1993
- ABOHN certification approved by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS).
- ABOHN Research Award established.
- Eligibility requirement for work experience changed from five years to 5,000 hours.
- OHNA Board established to look at creating a credential for OHNs without a degree.
- A position statement was issued on the case management qualifications of the COHN.
- Ann M. Lachat was hired as the Director of Support Services and the ABOHN office was moved to the Chicago area.
- Established a two-credential program designed to meet the needs of the non-degreed population. COHN and COHN-Specialist (COHN-S) credentials were established.
- Record breaking numbers (1,260) took the 1995 examination.
- Sharon Kemerer hired as Executive Director.
- The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) accredited the COHN-S examination.
- ABOHN was privileged to participate in the International Congress of Occupational Health (ICOH) held in Stockholm, Sweden.
- ABOHN celebrated its Silver Anniversary. The theme for the anniversary was 25 Years of Credentialing Excellence.
- The COHN board developed the Marguerite Ahern Graff Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing award. The award was developed to honor the dedication and tireless efforts by Marguerite Ahern Graff to establish a certification program.
- ABOHN entered into the information age in January, when a website was developed and established at www.abohn.org.
- The Board of Directors voted to establish a case management specialty credential.
1999 - 2000
- First meeting of the Case Management Panel of Experts met.
- A new certificate and ABOHN pin was developed for the case management credential holders.
- The Board of Directors decided to maintain the degree requirements for the COHN-S exam at its present level. Examination outlines were reconstructed in keeping with the research finding from the role delineation study.
- The American Board for Nursing Specialties (ABNS) renewed the COHN-S accreditation and accredited the COHN examination.
- Mary Salazar and Ann Lachat represented ABOHN at the Royal College of Nursing Occupational Health Conference in Nottingham, England. They presented the Results of the National Job Analysis/Role Delineation Study.
- Mary C. Amann was named Executive Director.
- ABOHN celebrated our 30th anniversary at the American Occupational Health Conference.
- Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and ABOHN agreed that the Reciprocity agreement was mutually beneficial and that it should remain in place essentially unchanged.
- The COHN examination was given in Puerto Rico as a pilot study to qualified OHNs.
- The Certification Self-Assessment Tests (CSATs) for both the COHN and COHN-S examinations were developed.
- NOCA acknowledged accreditation of the COHN, COHN-S and Case Management examinations by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
- The first manuscript authored by a Japanese researcher, using the ABOHN 2000 Practice Analysis survey which described the role delineation study done in Japan, was published.
- The new Safety Management credential SM was established for certified occupational health nurses in conjunction with BCSP.
- Georgia M. Knuth was selected as the new Executive Director in December.
- The first Safety Management exam was given in June.
- Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) was notified that it was the selected testing vendor for ABOHN examinations.
- After providing more than ten (10) years of devoted clerical services, Esther Cusack reluctantly retired in February.
- Held the last ABOHN paper and pencil examinations in October 2006.
- On March 1, Computer Based Testing (CBT) for the COHN, COHN-S and CM examinations began.
- Ann M. Lachat was selected as the new Executive Director of ABOHN at the Board of Directors meeting.
- The first Case Management CSAT was developed.
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Status program recognizes occupational health nurses.
- A new exhibit was presented at the AAOHN Symposium and Exposition.
- Joined with the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense program of "Let's Get Certified Campaign."
- The Board of Directors commences work on the new Practice Analysis.
- ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) recognizes the COHN-S credentail as a qualification for Professional Member Status.
- The "Let's Get Certified" campaign is held in Puerto Rico.
- ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) recognizes the COHN credential as a qualification for Professional Member Status.
- Work continues on the Practice Analysis - the return rates surpassed expectations with a response rate of 41%.
- ABOHN celebrates is 40th anniversary at the AAOHN conference in Nashville, TN.
- Exams, blueprints and handbooks are revised based on the results from the 2011 Practice Analysis.
- Ann Lachat and Pamela Hart deliver the 2011 Practice Analysis results at the FOHNEU conference in Tarragona, Spain.
- ABOHN changed to a Yearly Renewal system in January 2013.
- ABOHN retired the Safety Management (SM) Credential.
- ABOHN worked with Mary Partridge of Impact Consulting to update our "living" strategic plan.
- ABOHN CEO Ann Lachat celebrated her 20th anniversary with ABOHN.
- ABOHN completed the "Career Guide for Occupational Health Nursing."
- The Board changed the name of the Mayrose Snyder Excellence in Occupational Health Award to the Deborah L Fischer Gibbon Excellence in Occupational Health Award..
- ABOHN CEO Ann Lachat retired August 1, 2015 after 21 years of service.
- The Board changed the name of the Margarette Ahern Graf Excellence in Occupational Health Award (COHN) to the Ann M. Lachat Excellence in Occupational Health Award.
- Denise Knoblauch hired as Executive Director
- ABOHN started using Constant Contact as a weekly forum to keep connected with our credential holders.
- The wallet cards were replaced by new technology, Digital Badging, which showcases more information on the specific credential.
- ABOHN revised the Employer brochures to accurately reflect the roles of OHNs in business.
- ABOHN's website went through another round of update, including adding a section for Employers and Job Postings
- The January 2017 Board of Directors meeting was held in San Diego, CA at Paradise Point. Elected to the Board starting in June 2017 were Melinda Harrison, Daurice Holly, and Pamela Swann.
- Retiring from the Board in June 2017 are Jennylynn Balmer, Paula Clay, and Paula Kerns. The following individuals and one business were given awards for the highest score and Employer Recognition at the ABOHN Awards ceremony held April 25 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA:
- COHN Lauren Harris
- COHN-S Donna Wolf
- CM Candy Wright
- Business Award Northwell Health
- Jennylynn Balmer and Denise Knoblauch presented on the “Value of Certification”
- Lucy Carlson presented a poster on the Value of Certification
- The June 2017 Board of Directors meeting was held in Oak Brook, IL at Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus. Elected to the governing council, the following individuals assumed office at the June Business meeting:
- Chair: Wanda Smiling
- Secretary: Michele Willis
- Treasurer: Noreen Olson
- COHN-S chair: Bev Hagar
- COHN chair: Jean Drevdahl-Orchard
- CM chair: Lucy Carlson
- The Financial Audit has been completed by Bansley & Kiener.
We completed our annual report for 2017 for the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) application
- The January Board of Director’s meeting was held at the Holiday Inn, Nashville, in Nashville, TN. There will be no new board members or retirees for the Board in 2018.
- Chris Traynor from PSI (testing vendor) presented to the BOD and started the Practice Analysis work groups.
- The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) went through an extensive change in the accreditation standards. ABOHN's three exams, COHN, COHN-S, and CM, were approved for accreditation through August 2019. ABOHN must submit an annual report on business activities to continue the 5 year re-accreditation cycle, and must re-certify every fifth year, meeting the stringent 23 Standards set forth by NCCA.
- Updated Policies and Procedures for inclusion of more ABOHN credential holders Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to help with item writing, standard setting, practice analysis, and other requirements for all ABOHN credentials.
- Created a new EDAC (Exam Development Advisory Committee) for each exam and;
- Created a new PAAC (Practice Analysis Advisory Committee)
- Exhibited at the following conferences during the year:
- AAOHN – Reno NV
- AOHP – Glendale AZ
- ONSITE – Chicago, IL
- ABOHN Award winners for 2018:
- COHN – Maureen Felice
- COHN-S – Peter Mott
- CM – Rita Wicks and Sandra Wampler (tie)
- Employer Recognition – Perdue Farms
- The June BOD meeting was held at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook, Il. Shiela Galzov conducted a full day Strategic Planning Session.
- Board of Director Officers for 2018-2019:
- Chair: Wanda Smiling
- Secretary: Michele Willis
- Treasurer: Lucy Carlson
- COHN-S chair: Daurice Holly
- COHN chair – Denise Matthews
- CM chair – Jean Drevdahl-Orchard
- ABOHN staff worked with Intersociety Forum to create a new website for occupational health professionals and align ABOHN with other OH associations and membership groups.
- Practice Analysis completed August 2018.
- Several Policy and Procedures were changed/updated due to the NCCA Standards revisions.
The ABOHN BOD semi-annual January meeting was held in Safety Harbor, FL at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.
- The Strategic Plan was finalized and the vote to approve occurred at the February 2019 GC meeting.
- Jason Abellada presented “Parliamentarian Procedure” to the board for development.
- Denise Knoblauch resigned as Executive Director on Jan. 26, 2019.
The Practice Analysis was completed in February 2019 and all three exam’s analysis summaries were reviewed and uploaded to the ABOHN website. Although the changes to all three exam blueprints were minimal, PSI recommended new test development for launch in 2020. The current exams and blueprints will officially retire on 11/30/2019. T testing Black-Out will occur from December 2019 - February 2020. No exams will be given during these months.
ABOHN attended the AAOHN conference in Jacksonville, FL. Information about the Test Black-Out period (no tests to be given in Dec 2019,Jan 2020, Feb 2020), was given at the New Timers meeting, at the exhibit booth, and at the ABOHN Reception.
- The ABOHN Case Management informational was accepted to be displayed at the AAOHN Conference. The poster won 2nd place!
- The ABOHN Reception was well attended and the award recipients were:
- Cecil M. Pohl, BSN, RN, COHN-S - Debra L. Fischer Gilbbon Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award
- Jennifer L. Boggs, RN, COHN - Ann M. Lachat Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award
- Donna C. Ferreira, ANP, MS, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN - Ada Mayo Stewart Excellence in Occupational Health Case Management Award
- No awards were given for Employer, Research, or Vendor.
The ABOHN Board of Directors began work on recruiting for a new Executive Director in March 2019.
The Exam Development Committee (EDAC) met in Olathe, KS at the PSI corporate headquarters. This group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) met with Chris Traynor from PSI and spent 3 days in March learning how to write exam questions and then putting their education to use! The EDAC committees wrote items for each exam based on the new Test Blueprints which were formulated by the 2018 Practice Analysis.
Out thanks to the ABOHN EDAC members:
- Lisa Wolf
- Shari Turley
- Peter Mott
- Derleen Spence Ogilvie
- Pat Paquin
- Michelle Edwards
- Anne Robbins
- June Magnussen
- Nathan Britt
- Debbie George
- Paula Kerns
- Shelly Warwick
The June 2019 semi annual Board of Directors meeting was held at Hyatt’s The Lodge at McDonald’s Campus in Oak Brook, Il. Two members term was completed:
- Wanda Smiling
- Noreen Olson
Two new board members were confirmed.
- Marilyn Brownlee
- Kari Kilbride
During May - July, the EDAC committees met several times to review all of the new items. Each question and the answers are discussed and vetted. References and rationales for the items and answers are fully vetted. The EDAC will continue to meet to create the new test forms.
The Ed Search committee continued to look for a new Executive Director.
No exams were offered in January and February of 2020. A new group of SMEs was needed for Standard Setting for the new exam forms set to release to for candidates in March 2020. Our thanks for this group of Volunteers, the Standard Setting Committee (SSC), who spent a weekend in February 2020 at the PSI Center in Olathe, Kansas.
COHN SSC COHN-S SSC CM SSC
Deborah George Becky Edge Deborah George
Nancy Stewart Cheri Holodnik Derleen Spence
Phyllis Symuleski Derleen Spence Nancy Stewart
Melinda Cordova Paula Gray Waynett Boyd
Nina Larkins Peter Mott Melinda Cordova
Anne Robbins Waynett Boyd Jean Orchard
The January BOD meeting was held at the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, NM. New BOD members were nominated and approved for term beginning June 2020: Beth Dammann, Ginny Carlson, Nathan Britt, Shelley Warrick and David Martin (Public Member).
- The ABOHN BOD elected the incoming 2020 Governing Council:. Pam Swann- Chair, Kari Kilbride – Treasurer, Melinda Cordova – Secretary,, Daurice Holly – COHN Chair, Kari Kilbride – COHN-S Chair, Melinda Cordova – CM Chair. Term to start in June 2020.
- The ABOHN BOD interviewed two candidates for the Executive Director position. Lucy Carlson (BOD member) was selected as Executive Director. Lucy started in this position in March 2020.
- The Research Committee began review of the COHN and COHN-S current eligibility requirements. Up to this time, ABOHN accepted the NIOSH ERCs vetted 9-month certificate programs in lieu of the required 3000 work hours. NIOSH ERCs dismantled all but one of their accepted programs. The Committee researched OHN Master’s/Bachelor programs offered by NIOSH ERCs and other academic programs against the previous certificate programs and found that the OHN Masters and Bachelors programs were more comprehensive than the certificate programs.
- COVID-19 Pandemic closed all testing centers in March 2020. ABOHN worked closely with PSI and the scheduled candidates to safely proceed with examinations. The examination rebate fee scheme was extended through August 2020.
- The ABOHN Office seamlessly transitioned to working remotely.
- The AAOHN National Conference was cancelled due to the pandemic. Although we could not be together to present the ABOHN Awards congratulatory plaques were mailed to the following 2019 ABOHN Award winners: Pam Edstrom - Debra L. Fischer Gibbon Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award, Cheryl Allison - Ann M. Lachat Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award, Margaret Hauschildt - Ada Mayo Stewart Excellence in Occupational Health Case Management Award
The June BOD meeting was held via ZOOM over a four day period.
- The BOD voted to change the COHN, COHN-S and the Recertification alternatives to work requirement: “3,000 hours work credit for attaining a Master’s Degree related to occupational/ environmental health. 2,000 hours work credit for attaining a Bachelor's Degree related to occupational/ environmental health or completing a Certificate Program which is the equivalent of one year in full-time graduate level studies related to occupational/ environmental health.”
- Molly Taylor’s position was changed from Administrative Assistant to Operations Manager.
- The Strategic Plan was updated through 2025. Please find the latest Strategic Plan here.
- ABOHN's EDAC worked with PSI to determine the new cut scores for the exams. The data was used from candidates testing through August 31,2020. COVID-19 continued to impact our community. Candidate numbers were significantly lower than previous years.
The January BOD meeting was held via ZOOM again, over a four day period.
- The BOD voted on the following:
- ABOHN Governing Council (June 2021 - June 2022) Kari Kilbride (Chair), Nathan Britt (Treasurer), Beth Dammann (Secretary), Ginny Carlson (COHN Chair). Shelly warrick (COHN-S Chair), Marilyn Brownlee (CM Chair)
- Incoming Directors (June 2021- June 2022): Shannon Berryhill, Karen Jewell, Jennifer Morris
- ABOHN exhibited at the AAOHN Conference which was held virtually. Over 300 non-certified OHNs stopped at our "virtual booth"! Lucy Carlson, ED created a video for the poster session. Lucy Carlson, Pam Swann, Daurice Holly and Denise Matthews facilitated a panel discussion on the benefits of certification. The session was well-attended.
- ABOHN held the Annual Reception and Awards Presentation at our virtual reception, There were 207 attendees on our ZOOM call. The 2020 award winners:
- 2020 Ada Mayo Stewart Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Case Management - Angela Day
- 2020 Ann Lachat Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing (COHN): Christina Wirth (tied)
- 2020 Ann Lachat Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing (COHN): Jenee Frantz (tied)
- 2020 Debra Fischer Gibbon Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing (COHN-S): Mary Ziengenfuss
- 2020 Employer Recognition Award: WorkCare, Inc.
The June BOD meeting was a hybrid, with some attendees able to meet in-person in Oak Brook, Il and the others connecting through Zoom.
The Directors whose terms were up:
- Pamela Swann,
- Melinda Cordova,
- Daurice Holly
Newly elected Directors include:
- Shannon Berryhill,
- Jennifer Morris and
- Karen Jewell
The COHN, COHN-S and CM EDACs met to conduct annual reviews. We are grateful to the following volunteers:
- Anne Robbins
- Michelle Edwards
- Jean Orchard
- Nancy Stewart
- Debbie George
- June Magnussen
- Eileen Maloney-White
- Michele Willis
- Becky Edge
- Michelle Jones
- Cheri Holodnick
- Paula Gray
- Denise Maathews
- Shari Turley
- Jean Orchard
- Nancy Stewart
- Debbie George
- Denise Knoblauch
The semi-annual BOD meeting was conducted as a hybrid. The Directors that could attend in person met in Charleston, SC. The others participated virtually.
Lucy Carlson, ED, submitted her resignation notice effective 4/15/2022. The BOD created a search committee to fill the ED position.
ABOHN celebrates 50 years! The board worked on celebration activities including:
Sending 50th anniversary journals to all active certificants during OHN week.
Sending new logo "clings" to all active certificants to commemorate ABOHN's incorporation on May 26, 1972.
Updated the ABOHN logo - keeping the globe to honor the past, updating the boarder to give it a new modern look.
Contacted Senator Amy Kobuchar for help in creating national recognition for ABOHN and our certification holders.