Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Why was the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, Inc., (ABOHN) established? 

The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. (ABOHN) was established in 1972 as an independent nursing specialty certification board to implement and conduct a certification program for qualified occupational health nurses. The purposes of specialty certification are to provide peer review and to inform and protect the consumer. The credentials were established to protect the public. The credentials are COHN, COHN-S, and Case Management.  These credentials inform the consumer that the certificate holder has met certain predetermined standards in the specialty of occupational health nursing.

2.  How does ABOHN function? 

ABOHN is incorporated as an independent non-profit business 501(c)(6). The ABOHN Board of Directors functions within the bylaws set forth by ABOHN. Members of the Board of Directors are certified occupational health nurses and are selected on the basis of the following factors: experience, level of education, type of position and employer, year of certification, geographic residence, and demonstrated leadership in the specialty.   ABOHN also has a public member who is a non-nurse.  Nominations to the Board are open to all certified occupational health nurses in Active Status. Terms are for a 2 year period and a Director may serve a maximum of two 2-year terms. A policy and procedure manual provides operating guidelines for the Board. ABOHN is administered by an Executive Director and other office staff.

3.  Why Certification is essential?

The Occupational Health Nurse brings a unique perspective to management and clinical roles, acting as an employee advocate while balancing the needs of the workplace.  Employers and peers recognize certification in occupational health nursing as a prestigious achievement.  Certified occupational health nurses have passed a challenging national examination designed to test for advance knowledge in clinical care, management, employee education, case management and safety.   Certification also demonstrates that the OHN is committed to competency, education, and growth-all necessary to keep pace with the changing healthcare industry. 

4.  Why should employers hire certified Occupational Health Nurses? 

When you hire an ABOHN certified OHN, you are hiring a health and safety professional who is highly qualified with demonstrated expertise/excellence and the latest knowledge in health and safety on your behalf.

5.  How can certified Occupational Health Nurses manage your employee health care costs?

Whether you're running a family-owned business or a Fortune 500 company, controlling the cost of healthcare is a fact of corporate life.  The certified Occupational Health Nurse can be your advocate in an often difficult to navigate healthcare system.  More than a clinician, today's certified Occupational Health Nurse has safety and health expertise and understands the inner workings of the healthcare system, to make it work on your behalf.

6.  Who accredits ABOHN? 

ABOHN is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the credentialing arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) organization. Accreditation is proof that our program meets the high national standards for quality.

7.  What is the difference between ABOHN and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. (AAOHN)? 

ABOHN and AAOHN are separate and autonomous organizations that maintain a collegial and cooperative relationship. The support and leadership of AAOHN was instrumental in the creation of ABOHN in 1972. The two organizations collaborate for the mutual goal of advancing the specialty and its practitioners.

  • ABOHN is the separate and independent specialty certification board that evaluates qualifications of candidates who voluntarily seek certification.
  • AAOHN is the professional membership association of registered nurses engaged in the specialty of occupational health nursing.
  • ABOHN uses the definitions and standards of practice promulgated by AAOHN to set the criteria and standards for certification.
  • Membership in AAOHN is not required for certification.

8.  What are the channels of communication between ABOHN and AAOHN? 

There is direct communication between the chief staff and elected officers of both organizations and representatives of the two Boards meet at least annually to address issues of common interest and concern.

9.  What guidelines does ABOHN follow in establishing the certification process?

ABOHN follows the guidelines developed for certification boards by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the crediting body for the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE).  Accreditation by this organization requires compliance with rigorous standards established to assure consumers of proficient specialty nursing practice.

10.  Once I am certified, what credential will I use?

The COHN, COHN-S, and CM credentials are awarded to all candidates who successfully pass the respective examinations. The initials should be placed immediately after your highest earned degree for business and professional purposes. For example, "Susan Doe, RN, COHN or Susan Doe, RN, BSN, COHN-S/CM".  Periods are not usually used in the credential.

11.  Why does ABOHN require 3,000 hours experience in occupational health nursing for certification eligibility? 

The current requirement is consistent with the criteria used by other specialty certification boards in nursing and in occupational health and safety and meets the criteria for accreditation from NCCA. The Board believes that recent experience in the specialty is a major source of knowledge and skills used in occupational health nursing practice. The content and practice of occupational health nursing is limited in the majority of basic nursing educational programs and the occupational health nurse develops specialized knowledge and skills through practice.

12.  Why doesn't ABOHN provide a certification review course or a core curriculum for preparing for the examination?

The Board of Directors responsibility, as stated in the Articles of Incorporation, does not include the creation nor administration of educational courses. The Board strives to stimulate and promote the development of improved educational standards, programs, and a core curriculum for the specialty, but offering preparation courses would constitute a conflict of interest, and could imply a guarantee of passing the credentialing examination.

ABOHN does compile and publish public information about courses that assist OHNs to prepare for the examination and to advance their knowledge of occupational health nursing and can be found on the website under the Resources tab.

13.  How can I read all the references included in the Study References?

These references are provided as examples of the type of materials that the Board believes would be useful in preparing for the certification examination. The list is not intended as required reading but as a resource for areas in which the nurse may want to develop more knowledge.

14.  Why is recertification required?

Certification is an ongoing assurance to the public that the credentialed person meets established standards. Therefore, it is ABOHN Board of Directors obligation to assure that certified occupational health nurses in Active Status continue to meet the criteria required for certification and to be compliant with NCCA accreditation standards.

15.  How can I determine who is certified?

ABOHN publishes an online "Directory of Certified Occupational Health Nurses" that lists all those in good standing holding the COHN, COHN-S, and CM credentials. This Directory is not available to the public but mailing labels are available for sale.