The Benefits of Occupational Medicine Jobs
Occupational medicine jobs offer physicians the opportunity to practice without the hassles associated with traditional settings, and locum tenens positions enable clinicians to learn and try out the specialty.
“There are lots of opportunities in occupational medicine, and it’s a growing field,” said Gregory W., director of primary care for AMN Healthcare, a leading locum tenens agency. “A huge part of our open job orders are for occupational medicine.”
Physicians specializing in occupational medicine focus on how health affects work and work affects health. They deal with people who have experienced work-related injuries and illnesses, according to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM); they may also conduct health screenings for job candidates and employees.
Illness and injury prevention is a key aspect of occupational medicine physicians’ days. They assess the environment and elements that could play a part in a workplace injury, getting at the root cause of mishaps. Occupational medicine specialists strive to make workplaces safer for workers.
Physicians in occupational medicine jobs work with administration, human resources and policymakers to create safer and more efficient workforces. Their recommendations can lead to healthier workplaces. For instance, they might educate about worksite hazards, the use of personal protective equipment and exposures to toxic substances.
Occupational medicine physicians often work in medical clinics, corporate offices, industrial plants, theme parks, medical centers, consulting firms, educational institutions, and for federal and state governments.
According to ACOEM, these clinicians conduct pre-assignment health evaluations, to make sure the candidate can physically and emotionally handle the assignment; periodically check on workers’ health status, especially if there is a risk of workplace exposures or activities that could adversely affect health; screen for infectious diseases and offer onsite vaccinations; manage occupational illness and injury, including return to work evaluations; and provide counseling and referrals for workers to mental health professionals as needed.
In some settings, occupational medicine providers are involved with emergency preparedness and health benefits management.
Benefits of working in occupational health
Why work in occupational health? ACOEM reports that occupational medicine physicians in have a low rate of burnout and high satisfaction rates. Occupational medicine positions, typically, offer a good work–life balance and pay well. Jobs usually require Monday through Friday coverage.
As of July 20, 2022, Salary.com reported that the median occupational medicine salary is $231,940. Locum tenens occupational medicine assignments generally pay from $88 to $100 per hour, though some locations offer completion bonuses or higher compensation.
Occupational medicine jobs can be intellectually challenging and offer a mix of clinical and administrative work. These positions often offer opportunities to design programs that protect workers and improve people’s health
Many employers desire a board-certified physician for occupational medicine positions.
The American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) offers certification in occupational medicine to physicians with an unrestricted or revoked medical license from the United States or Canada, who have graduated from an accredited medical school, and completed 15 graduate-level courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, health services administration and environmental health sciences.
ABPM offers a complementary pathway for physicians making a mid-career switch to the specialty, after completing two or more years in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited residency program.
Locum tenens occupational medicine
Many opportunities across the country are available for physicians seeking a locum tenens occupational medicine job. Hospital-based clinics often require occupational medicine experience and credentials. But other occupational medicine positions can be filled by a family medicine physician or doctors with urgent care experience. Some facilities are willing to train physicians new to the specialty.
“It’s a great experience and can give the physician a new skill set,” Walker said. “It gives them a wide berth of experience, all in one place.”
The majority of locum tenens assignments involve working in outpatient settings in the community, providing primary care, urgent care and physical exams, and handling work-related injuries and the associated paperwork.
Some positions require certification from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to perform physicals for truck drivers. Staff Care covers the cost of DOT certification, which requires completing an 8-hour online course.
Nurse practitioner and physician assistant locum tenens occupational health positions also exist.
Locum positions allow clinicians to practice in different cities and states, trying out different communities and settings. They may fill in for vacations or maternity leave or to cover shifts while the employer finds a full-time provider. Some employers have longer-term needs and allow the locum provider to transfer to other locations.
“There will always be a job for you,” Walker said, referring to particular staffing clients. He added that locum tenens physicians “are never hurting for opportunities.”
Pick your assignment and location
Staff Care manages medical malpractice insurance for locum providers and will help with credentialing and licensing. Additionally, the Staff Care team handles travel, lodging and transportation needs.
When not on duty, locum tenens occupational medicine physicians can see the sights. That might mean getting to ride a dog sled through the snow in Alaska, exploring the waterfalls at Yosemite National Park or shopping on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
Working locums expands a physician’s professional and personal horizons.
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