AAOHN Re-visioned

Mark your calendar on Tuesday, April 21, if you’re an occupational health nurse, if you work with OHNs, or if you appreciate their contribution and keep an eye on health costs. April 21 is the day Kay N. Campbell, incoming president of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, will speak at its annual conference about the Re- Visioning project and plans for AAOHN’s future. A new name may be coming, along with new goals and new activism and outreach, she told me Jan. 26.

“We really started talking about the future of the profession and the future of our organization several years back, actually; probably two, in earnest,” said Campbell, EdD, RN-C, COHN-S, FAAOHN, who will start her two-year presidential term at that meeting in Orlando. (Visit www.aaohn.org for conference details.) The association’s leaders examined many things, including how people outside the profession regard occupational health nurses, the business case for OHNs, the U.S. workforce, health, politics, leadership and membership issues, and what’s happening in the nursing profession. Pulling all of the data together, they assessed where AAOHN is and where it wants to go, then asked members for their views with a Re-Visioning survey. AAOHN has between 8,000 and 10,000 members.

“It is time to take a look at the organization,” said Campbell. “Politically, it is a good time to change. There’s a lot going on, there are a lot of changes that will be made, and we really do want to be part of that solution from a public health perspective.

“OHNS are in a wonderful position to help companies strategize around their health care, health care costs, how to keep their workers healthy and productive, and we want our members to be there at that table in that conversation. We feel like we’re really prepared to do that.”

OHN clinical jobs have declined along with U.S. manufacturing, but members’ roles have steadily expanded. This effort asks whether AAOHN, as an organization and as a name, fully serves today’s OHNs. “We’re open to suggestions,” Campbell said. “We don’t want people to think this is just a name change. If we change our name, then we will be a different organization. I want people to understand that we really are thinking about changing our organization. And what it will look like in the end, we’re not sure.”

Professional societies’ members often resist name and bylaws changes, but keep in mind, AAOHN was the American Association of Industrial Nurses until 1977.

One more point worth noting: AAOHN’s governance changes about five years ago gave its board freedom to focus on the big picture as the executive director and staff handle day-to-day operations, Campbell said.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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