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Become an OHN

An Occupational Health Nurse is defined Nationally within Canada as a Registered Nurse who has graduated with a Certificate or Diploma from a recognized Occupational Health Nursing program and/or who has achieved the level of COHN(C) with the Canadian Nurses Association.

OHNs are specialized health professionals who combine their knowledge of health and business to balance the requirement for a safe and healthy workplace .  OHNs are committed to ensuring that strong occupational health standards and practices are achieved by working collaboratively with internal key stakeholders / leaders and external regulatory and professional bodies to proactively manage the risks to health and safety within the workplace.

Along with supporting and sustaining organizational health, OHNs take an integrated approach with frontline workers for their health and well-being by evaluating workplace hazards and risks and through effective management of OH programs.  The OHN Scope of Practice includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Conducting fitness to work and health surveillance programs

  • Injury case management

  • Assessing the work environment

  • Providing primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies

  • Health education/promotion programs

  • Counseling interventions and programs

  • Managing our medical information system

  • Monitoring injury/illness trends

  • Program planning, policy development

  • Cost-containment strategies

  • Managing and administering an occupational health service within legal and professional parameters  

Many RNs begin working in Occupational Health before taking specialized courses and then either work their way towards completing their formal Occupational Health Nursing program or write and pass the Occupational Nursing Certification Exam from the Canadian Nurses Association to obtain their COHN(c) designation.  AOHNA strongly encourages all members towards professional certification. 

If you are interested in Occupational Health Nursing as a profession, a good place to start is to review our "What Do Occupational Health Nurses Do" page.  You can also contact AOHNA and we will connect you with some of our members to answer your questions and share their journey to becoming OHN's. Professional mentorship is one of AOHNA's key functions and we are here to support current and future OHNs.

In terms of education, formal Occupational Health Nursing programs are available through several colleges and universities in Canada. In Alberta, MacEwan University offers an online part-time program. Other current Canadian providers include Lambton College (Ontario), Mohawk College (Ontario) and Durham College (Ontario).

To write the Occupational Nursing Certification Exam, contact the Canadian Nurses Association to review requirements.

Is Occupational Health Nursing Right For You?
Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) OHN Specialty Certification

CNA certification is the nationally recognized Specialty Credential for Nurses.  To become certified, you must pass a rigorous computer-based exam at one of two exam windows annually. Your exam preparation will be unique, depending on what you already know about the OHN Specialty Practice. CNA offers many  exam preparation resources, as do many nursing specialty associations.

If you become certified, your credential will be valid for a five-year term. At the end of five years, you can renew by submitting a record of continuous learning hours or rewriting the exam.

Please check the links below for more information:

Specialty designation COHN(C) Certified in Occupational Health Nursing (Canada)

National Nursing Specialty Association -Canadian Occupational Health Nurses Association (COHNA)

Exam Blueprint and Specialty Competencies - Occupational Health Nursing Certification

Employer Zone- CNA has included a great video to share with employers especially if you are seeking certification funding support.

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