2015 National Conference Highlights

Thursday, March 26

The Future of Work with Dr. John Howard, NIOSH Director

John Howard.jpg

Work has changed with increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Today is technology versus jobs, Dr. John Howard explained, noting that one in three Americans worked on farms in 1914. One hundred years later, fewer than two percent of Americans work in agriculture because innovation and technology have replaced many people.

The American workforce is changing: 1) They are aging; 2) A portion are underemployed; and 3) A percentage are unfit for work. Add the fact that Americans are less healthy -- Obesity continues to climb, and young workers are much less healthy as they enter the workplace today. And jobs are in transition. Two books demonstrate this: The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and The Future of Work by Thomas Malone.

What happened: In the 1970s the model of stable, traditional jobs began to change with the erosion of the employee/employer relationship, decreasing unionization, increased instability, globalization, increased computerization and technological advancement and virtual workplaces. The contingent worker is a good example of today’s workforce with little job security, low wages, no benefits, minimal advancement, hazardous working conditions, and forced migration to get to where the jobs are. Another example is the shared economy (or collaborative consumption) with Craig’s List, Uber, and Airbnb, where OSHA, workers’ compensation, and tort law are not applicable. Contractors are responsible for themselves.

Even examining today’s manufacturing, think of the 3-D additive manufacturing, humanoid robots, and biological manufacturing of organs and biosensors. MIT and UC Berkley are just two places that that are working on engineering humans out of the job.

What is the role of the occupational health profession in this climate? What are the ethics of not providing safety and healthcare for the highly vulnerable contingent worker? Is occupational health being engineered out of society with biosensors, direct readers and nano-enabled sensors and cameras? Do we have the data we need, but don’t know how to use it?

What about 2015? Dr. Howard had a few short term predictions related to some of what would transpire this year:
King vs Burwell will be decided by the Supreme Court.
We will see pressure to make electronic health records more portable.
Specialty drugs that are driving up the cost of healthcare could become more controlled.
Healthcare finances may become more transparent to the consumer.
Bundling payments for healthcare may force more collaborative and accountable care by providers.
E-cigarettes may become regulated.

Reporter, Annette Byrd

Wednesday, March 25

Annual Business Meeting

The Annual Business Meeting of AAOHN began with the customary state Roll Call that included calls of “Go Badgers” (WI), “Virginia is for Lovers” (VA), “Go Cats” (KY), “Go UCONN” (CT), “Tarheels” (NC), “Pray for Spring” (MA), “Start your Engines” (IN), “I Love NY” (NY), “No Taxation without Representation” (DC) and other slogans from the 41 states and 409 members attending.
Finances and other business were reported, and new directors were installed to the AAOHN Board of Directors. Outgoing president of AAOHN Pam Carter passed the gavel to new AAOHN President Jeannie Tomlinson, and they each delivered a message to the membership.

passing the gavel.jpg

Thank you to all the officers who have served AAOHN over the last two years, as well as those who are leading us into the future!

Judy Ostendorf, Reporter

Pippa White Delivers Catherine Dempsey Lecture


In her presentation "Love in Action," Pippa White shared the stories of Florence Nightingale, Ada Mayo Stewart and Lillian Wald, wearing a different hat to portray each one. All of them were women who saw the big picture -- public health.

At the age of 30, Florence Nightingale shocked her wealthy family by announcing she was going to be a nurse, a 19th century career that was on a low rung of the ladder. There were no nursing schools so she attended a nursing convent called the School of Healing Arts. She began her career in the Crimean War and returned to England because of illness. After recovery she was a district nurse. She pioneered nursing statistics, including keeping records and recording her activities. She was also concerned with worker exposures. She advocated that the then-occupational health nurse must keep care of the person, keep the room clean, refer to agencies and authorities, and thus, this nurse must be more accomplished than the hospital nurse.

Born 47 years after Florence, Lillian Wald, after caring for her pregnant sister, decided to become a nurse. She entered the NYC General Hospital to study. In the hospital, Lillian observed the subservient role of nurses, so she decided to go to the Medical College in NYC, and while there she began working with immigrants and the poor. She did not return to the medical school, but rather began the Visiting Nurses Services with her friend Mary Brewster.

Born three years after Lillian, Ada Mayo Stewart, oldest of three girls in her family to attend nursing school, entered Waltham School of Nursing to later focus on visiting nursing.

Proctor Vermont Marble Company hired the 25-year-old Ada Mayo Stewart as the only medical person in the town; the nearest doctor was miles away. She wore a nurse’s cap and uniform and rode a bicycle to make home visits and take care of the workers and their families, who spoke seven different languages. She delivered babies with no running water or electricity, took care of children with bad vision and scalp conditions, and began treating workers with strains, sprains, gashes.

At the same time, Lillian and Mary Bewster began living on the lower east side of NY so they could better serve their clients who lived in dark quarters with infestations, poverty, unemployment, eviction and starvation. Creatively, Lillian secured a wealthy benefactor and began to collaborate with the Board of Health to take care of the community. This way she began to learn of residents who were diagnosed with TB and she began visiting and treating them, keeping the Board of Health informed of their progress. She championed forgotten groups. In 1893, she had 2 nurses and by 1915, she had expanded to 206 nurses, visiting 2,300 people per day. She considered each worker a human being, each tenement a home, and thought nurses could make a change…NURSES ARE LOVE IN ACTION.

Florence, Lillian and Ada Mayo made the biggest changes to the nursing profession.

A solo performance artist since 1994, Pippa White has performed at universities and colleges, conferences, performing arts centers, museums, libraries, and festivals across the United States. She calls her One’s Company Productions “part theatre, part storytelling, part history.” Audiences call them unique, captivating, and touching. White previously had an extensive career in theatre and television on the West Coast, including five years hosting a daily morning television show on ABC in San Francisco.

Sponsored by the Northeast Association of Occupational Health Nursing "In Honor of Our Heritage"

Judy Ostendorf, Reporter

Awards Breakfast

AAOHN members and their chapters, sponsors, employers and friends enjoyed the annual awards breakfast on Wednesday morning at the 2015 National Conference in Boston. AAOHN presented awards for workplace health and safety stewardship, authorship, humanitarian efforts, public affairs and poster excellence. Chapters were recognized for education and communication, and 14 new AAOHN Fellows were honored.

The AAOHN Foundation, with the support of sponsors such as UPS, Liberty Mutual, Meditrax, Moore Medical and Annette Haag, provided academic and continuing education scholarships and research grants.

The Northeast Association of Occupational Health Nurses presented 9 Medique Leadership Awards, 4 grants and the Kathleen Schusler Memorial Scholarship.

Judy Ostendorf, Reporter

Tuesday, March 24

Maureen Sullivan-Tevault Inspires and Entertains with "The (R)Evolution in Nursing: Preserving the Past While Protecting Our Future"

Maureen Sullivan-Trevault2.jpg

Maureen entered the room dressed in a white lab coat and a cap with a red cross to the music of the Beatles’ “Revolution,” wishing us a Happy 100th Anniversary. Beginning with a discussion of Florence Nightingale and the nurse on the battleground in a white uniform, then touching on today’s media images of nurses like Julianna Margulies as the nurse in ER and others, she proclaimed, “Wow, how nursing has changed.”

In 1887, in addition to caring for 50+ patients, nursing duties included: sweeping floors, dusting, mopping; and, in five years, pay would be increased by 5 cents per day. Today our jobs include monitoring federal regulations (e.g., NIOSH, OSHA, FMLA, ADA), administering vaccines, drug screens, and respiratory protection, and dealing with Ebola, medical marijuana, and the dreaded GOKWN (God Only Knows What’s Next).

Maureen asked the audience to give themselves a round of applause because of the uniqueness of their jobs. She cautioned us to protect ourselves by putting nurses first, including all the things we tell workers to do:

Sleep seven hours per night.

Eat a healthy diet.

Limit caffeine.


Make time for crafts, hobbies and relaxation, but if you learn to crochet, learn more than one stitch or you’ll have a five-mile scarf. (She rolled out a long, long scarf made with a single crochet stitch.)

Get active, but condition yourself before you try a half-marathon. (She told a story about getting a medal for running a half-marathon, and also receiving metal in her knee from her ACL tear.)

Try leisure walking.

Manage stress.

Use humor to relieve stress. The average preschooler laughs 400 times a day, but laughter drops to 15 times per day by age 35. Try to laugh it off. Add humor back into your life…laugh when you miss a deadline, she said.

Know when you may be burned out (e.g., compassion fatigue). If you are constantly sick, feel underappreciated, dread going to work, just going through the motions, and becoming insensitive to employees, this may be you.

Occupational health nurses have varied knowledge and experience, so think about your bucket list and what all you can do:

Write your book.

Become a legal consultant.

Become a benefits manager or case manager

Become a health navigator.

Above all, keep laughter in your life and work. There are many positive physiological changes to laughter. One hundred laughs equal the same physical exertion as a 10-minute workout on a row machine. Use cartoons, funny photos, give yourself and others a standing ovation, wear humorous outfits, and tell good jokes. “Knock. Knock. Who’s there? HIPAA. HIPAA who? I can’t tell you who.”

Her final message is, "Take care of yourself. Be the World’s Most Amazing Occupational Health Nurse. Our future depends on it. You are a Super Hero!"

Presentation sponsored by CHR and the AAOHN Foundation.

Maureen Sullivan-Tevault, BSN, RN, CEN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.” Maureen recently published Never Again! From Horror to Humor, My Life as A Nurse, in which she relates some of the many stories she has accumulated during her career.

Judy Ostendorf, Reporter

AAOHN is 'Bawston Strong'

Boston Strong Group.jpg

Following Maureen Sullivan-Trevault's presentation, the audience was treated to a skit by Professor Margaret Noreen Maguire (aka “MnM”), and AAOHN Board Member and NEAOHN leader Sheila Litchfield, who was fully dressed as SNL’s Church Lady. Using Boston vernacular, they taught those of us not from the Northeast how to navigate “auderin” food, what restaurants were “neah” the hotel, how to stay “wom,” and “impauhtant” places to see.

This skit provided us with our 100 laughs for the day. And MaOHN members serenaded us with a mini-rap: "Welcome to Bawston. We wish you were here. See you in Jacksonville, Florida, April 11-14, 2016."

Judy Ostendorf, Reporter

Occupational Health Nursing Back to the Future

Joy Wachs, PhD, RN, moderated an expert panel discussion examining the history, current state, and future of occupational health nursing.

Annette Haag, MA, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, past president of AAOHN, reviewed changes seen by the organization over the past 50 years. She pointed out that OSHA standards originally excluded nurses in many of the standards, specifying the need for physicians to do medical screenings. In 1991, nurses were hired by NIOSH, and OHNs were instrumental in writing the Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) standard. Since then, AAOHN has advocated for changes to standards that allow OHNs to practice to their full legal scope of practice.

Pam Carter, RN, COHN-S, FAAOHN, current president of AAOHN, discussed the state of AAOHN today. She emphasized the need for OHNs to get involved with the legislative process and advocate for issues important to workers. Pam talked about the changes that AAOHN has seen in the past decade, going from an organization with over 10,000 members to one half the size, becoming a more member-focused organization.

Jeannie Tomlinson, MSN, RN, COHN-S, FAAOHN, president-elect of AAOHN, shared her vision of the future of occupational health nursing and AAOHN. She expressed her optimism for the opportunities available to OHNs at this time. She emphasized the need for members to let their voices be heard, and to make their organizations work for them.

Following the panel presentation, audience members shared their thoughts and asked questions of the panelists. The discussion was energized and enthusiastic. Pam Carter suggested that members join the free Nursing Community to expand networking opportunities. Audience members suggested that OHNs get involved with the state legislative affairs committee of their state nurses association, and communicate directly with their local legislations.

AAOHN continues to build relationships with other nursing organizations and NIOSH. One member said that each representative in Congress has a nurse on staff to address health issues, and she suggested that each AAOHN member establish a relationship with that nurse. Issues such as human trafficking and violence in the workplace were also voiced as being important to OHNs.

Eileen Lukes, Reporter

Monday, March 23

Dr. Sanjiv Chopra Delivers Keynote Presentation, "Dharma, Karma, Happiness and Living with Purpose"

dr. chopra keynote.jpg

Opening the AAOHN 2015 National Conference, Dr. Sanjiv Chopra shared reflections of living with purpose. He noted that dharma is the essence of happiness.

"To understand and uphold your dharma, your duty is to yourself, your family and fellow human beings," Chopra said.

Traits of the happiest people Include having lots of friends (chosen family), having the ability to forgive, and having gratitude for others. Joy is the essence of extreme happiness.

Dr. Chopra presented many reflections from philosophers during his presentation. One of the philosophers said, “If you have forgotten the language of gratitude, you will never experience happiness.” On his smartphone, Dr. Chopra even asked Siri, “What is the secret of happiness?” Siri answered, “it is unequivocally chocolate!”

Living with purpose may be discovered when you look for a key moment in your life. For a wonderful example of a key moment in someone’s life, google Jose Abroe/Venezuela and El Sistema, and learn about an extraordinary musical revolution in Venezuela where Jose Abroe used music to save children living in landfills with musical instruments made from the garbage.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”


A highly acclaimed author and speaker, Sanjiv Chopra, MD, MACP is a professor of medicine for Continuing Medical Education at Harvard Medical School, where he served as faculty dean for Continuing Medical Education for 12 years. He is also the the James Tullis Firm Chief in the Department of Medicine and a senior consultant in Hepatology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

Judy Ostendorf, Reporter

Photos from 2015 National Conference