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Career Paths in Occupational Medicine

Harber, Philip MD, MPH; Bontemps, Johnny BS; Saechao, Kaochoy MD, MPH; Wu, Samantha BS, MS; Liu, Yihang MD, MS; Elashoff, David PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: November 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 11 - p 1324–1329
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31826bb509
Original Articles

Objective: To describe career path patterns for occupational medicine (OM) physicians.

Methods: A convenience sample of 129 occupational physicians described work activities and locations at several career points up to 20 years ago, first OM position, and 10 years after expectations.

Results: Clinical activities were important throughout (eg, 41% and 46% of occupational physicians reported frequently treating patients 20 years ago and currently). Practice locations changed more markedly, with increased multisite clinics and hospital/medical center-based practices. Performing mainly clinical activities in a first job increased from 82% to 97% over the past 20 years. Career transitions between clinical and nonclinical roles were common (40% of participants). Many anticipate transition to nonclinical work over 10 years.

Conclusions: Activities have not fundamentally changed, but practice locations have evolved. Both clinical and management activities remain important, and path to managerial positions increasingly begins in clinical practice.

From the Community, Environment, and Policy Division (Dr Harber and Ms Wu), Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, Occupational and Environmental Medicine Division (Drs Harber, Saechao, and Liu, and Ms Wu and Mr Bontemps), Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles and Department of Medicine (Dr Elashoff), David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles.

Address correspondence to: Philip Harber, MD, MPH, Community-Environment, and Policy Division, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Medical Research Building—Room 112, 1656 E Mabel St, Tucson, AZ 85724 (pharber@email.arizona.edu).

This study was supported by grant 5 R01 OH008647 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine