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.