What is OEM?

OEM is a sub-specialty of the American Board of Preventive Medicine. OEM focuses on ways that workplace, home, or community environmental factors affect human health. Our field spans workplace safety, infectious disease hazards in the workplace or community, the toxic effects of chemicals (in the workplace, food, water, air, soil, or consumer products), effects of physical agents (such as noise or radiation) on health, chronic musculoskeletal stressors and ergonomic issues, workplace stress and other psychological issues, and even global environmental health issues (such as the effects of climate change on health). OEM is an exciting field because there are many opportunities for research and intervention to help improve the health of individuals and communities.

What does postgraduate training at the University of Washington in OEM offer?

Our ACGME-accredited program was established in 1977 and is one of the top OEM training programs in the country. We specialize in training physicians for leadership positions in academic research, teaching, public health, and policy positions, as well as provide training in clinical OEM. Our trainees build a foundation of knowledge in epidemiology, toxicology, biostatistics, risk assessment, and public health through participation in the master of public health (MPH) program in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences at UW’s School of Public Health.

Trainees then develop more in-depth expertise through industry and community site visits, research projects, complex clinical evaluations, and presentations. Board certification in Preventive Medicine–OEM opens up many career opportunities to physicians in academia, clinical settings, industry, consulting, and government.

What are the components of OEM training?

OEM training is a two-year program. The first year typically focuses on coursework toward a master’s in public health (MPH) from the UW’s Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences. The second year consists primarily of practicum experience at a variety of clinical, research, and public health sites. Physicians who already have an MPH degree still complete two years of training, but they only take a few MPH courses specific to occupational medicine and have more time for elective rotations and research. Additional components of the UW training program include an in-depth research project, site visits to workplaces and communities, case conferences, a current topics seminar, and other learning opportunities such as local and national professional meetings.