• What is OEM?

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  • Physicians New to Occupational Medicine

     

    OEM Physicians: Keeping America’s Workforce Healthy

    Thank you for exploring the exciting field of occupational and environmental health! 

    As the nation’s workplaces become more complex, occupational and environmental health specialists play an increasingly visible role in preventing diseases and promoting wellness among workers.

    Qualifications of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physician

    The major role of the occupational and environmental physician is to evaluate the interaction between work and health.  The clinical occupational and environmental physician responsible for employee health must: 

    1. have a general knowledge of worksite operations and be familiar with the toxic properties of materials used by employees and the potential hazards and stressors of work processes;
    2. be qualified to determine an employee's physical and emotional fitness for work;
    3. be capable of diagnosing and treating occupational and environmental diseases and competently handling injuries;
    4. possess knowledge of rehabilitation methods; health education techniques; sanitation; workers' compensation laws; local, state, and federal regulatory requirements; and the systems for maintaining medical records; and
    5. be able to organize and manage the delivery of health services.

    The occupational and environmental physician must communicate with and inspire confidence in people on all levels. In addition to administering the medical program and supervising medical personnel, he or she must work as part of a business organization and understand both management's and labor's problems. He or she must maintain the confidentiality of the physician/patient relationship. For research positions, training in epidemiology, toxicology, biostatistics, and psychology is important.

    What does an occupational and environmental physician do?


    New to OEMAs highly trained specialists, OEM physicians and other health professionals enhance the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, disability management, research, and education.

    OEM professionals have expertise in determining the ability of employees to perform work; the arrangements of work, the physical, chemical, biological, and social environments of the workplace, and the health outcomes of environmental exposures.

    They recognize that work and the environment in which it is performed can have favorable or adverse effects upon the health of workers as well as of other populations; that the nature of work can be arranged to protect worker health; and that health and well-being at the workplace are promoted when workers’ physical attributes or limitations are accommodated in job placement.

    They are skilled at using the tools of preventive medicine to improve the health of workers and their families, and they are trained in the complex Return-to-Work process, an advanced system of health monitoring that optimizes the time in which ill or injured workers can safely return to work.

    Perhaps most importantly, occupational health professionals occupy a critical position at the center of virtually all health-related transactional activities in the workplace. They are connected to all of the other parts of this complex infrastructure—senior management, benefits and human resources, legal, worker’s compensation, government regulatory agencies, labor and unions, hospitals and public health organizations. They are a fulcrum of workplace health—understanding the needs and challenges of each of these diverse groups.  They provide a unique bridge between the clinical/scientific medical community and the business-based employer community.

    The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) represents nearly 5,000 physicians and other professionals specializing in occupational and environmental health. Founded in 1916, ACOEM is the nation’s largest medical specialty society dedicated to research, education and the support of professionals in this critical area.

    Please follow the links in this section to learn more about OEM and the resources available to practitioners.

    Members of ACOEM receive a subscription to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), the monthly e-news, weekly Science Briefs, access to the Members Only section of the website, discounted rates on annual meeting registration fees and opportunities to participate in local component societies and special interest sections. Participation in component societies and special interest sections is a good way to enter the network of OEM professionals.

    We invite you to explore and learn more about this exciting profession, the interesting people who have make OEM their career, and ACOEM – the professional organization that supports them! If you have questions, please call us at 847-818-1800 or e-mail memberinfo@acoem.org 

     

    SOME PLACES TO BEGIN:


    Medical Students, Residents and Recent Residency Graduates 

    Entering the Field in Mid Career 

    Careers in Occupational and Environmental Medicine
    Is the field of occupational and environmental medicine right for you? This publication introduces you to the exciting and challenging world of occupational and environmental medicine. The Careers brochure describes:

    • the need for OEM physicians;
    • how to enter the field;
    • postgraduate education in OEM;
    • the range of different practice settings;
    • Board Certification in Occupational Medicine; and
    • the many personal advantages in practicing OEM.  

    The entire publication is available on line at no charge. Click here to access Careers. 

    Scope of Occupational and Environmental Health Programs and Practice.
    A detailed discussion of the varieties of practice of OEM physicians.

    Occupational and Environmental Medicine Competencies.
    Occupational and environmental medicine comprises a spectrum of competencies ranging from those of the general practitioner to those of a highly trained specialist. Occupational and environmental physicians vary in the nature of their practices and their practice settings. While a gastroenterologist in Paris and one in Detroit may perform very similar tasks on a routine basis, the practices of two occupational and environmental medicine physicians in Detroit alone may be completely different. As a result, it is not practical to define a "core" set of competencies for this field of medicine. Those competencies considered core for the occupational and environmental medicine generalist who primarily manages occupational injuries and fitness-for-duty issues may be very different from those considered to be core for the occupational and environmental medicine specialist who serves as a consultant on health issues of populations of workers or communities with environmental concerns. Thus, ACOEM's Panel to Define the Competencies of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has defined a more comprehensive "menu" of competencies rather than a “core”.

    OEM Practice Settings and Career Opportunities
    ACOEM sponsors a series of informal teleconferences titled “Practice Settings and Career Opportunities”. Presenters “tell their story”— their path to their current area of practice, what their day-to-day work looks like, recommendations regarding how one gets into that area of practice, what the job market is like, and other wisdom for those new to the field. 

    These sessions are on the ACOEM website as downloadable audiocasts, so those who can’t be on the calls can still listen to them. The link is http://www.acoem.org/audiotraining.aspx. 

    The resources of the Career Center in Occupational and Environmental Medicine   

    Commercial Driver Medical Examiner Center   

    Evidence Based Medicine: OEM Practice Guidelines 

    Health and Productivity Management Center