Current Job Trends in Occupational Medicine
Updated: Mar 8
We are experiencing a paradigm shift in healthcare. The number of positions available for physicians in occupational and environmental medicine has increased immensely over the last few years. The positions available and that will come available are good positions, with executive-level responsibility, medical challenges, and an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of workers, the success of employers, and the health of communities across the country.
Over 50% of the current medical directors in corporations will retire over the next five years. In addition, many physicians are expected to leave government positions. Changes in health care (due not just to the Affordable Care Act) will result in a huge demand for primary care and clinical specialty medicine services. That trend will further starve the market for qualified OEM practitioners because fewer physicians are likely to enter the field in mid-career or be able to compete with residency-trained specialists.
At the same time, the pipeline for training is so constricted and so few physicians are in OEM residency programs that there are nowhere near enough physicians to take these excellent positions. Due to the small number of OEM residency programs (less than 25 at my count), we are only graduating about 85 residents each year while losing about 250 OEM physicians to attrition each year.
This scenario spells one word—SHORTAGE! And the shortage is already here. Where once there were 50 positions on average listed through ACOEM at any one time, there are now 250 (which now includes executive physician positions.)
Candidates with training of demonstrable excellence and relevance, 5-10 years corporate experience, a minimum of 5 years hands-on clinical experience and a MPH and a MBA will be HIGHLY in demand for positions as physician executives in workplace settings, for positions such as CMO, VP-Medical, Chief Health Officer, VP-HSE, Global Medical Director, and CMD.
Physicians currently doing these jobs have the functional equivalent of an MBA because they have many years of experience in the trenches of business management. An occupational physician with an MBA, residency training, an MPH (or equivalent), clinical experience in an on-site corporate clinic or with a major healthcare system (Kaiser, Mayo, DOE, DOD, VA, military, etc) will have an overwhelming advantage when applying for the most prestigious positions.
Just as important as good medical training, however, is the ability to work with people. That means interacting well with workers and managers. Relationship building, growing, and fusion is a key to success, in every location–from home to office, and from neighborhood to global. Team collaboration, individual growth, networking, and adaptability are keys to having influence and becoming a leader in today’s OEM world. The physician who can understand and communicate, and who speaks the language of business and healthcare will be listened to and highly valued. Here’s my closing advice:
SEEK OUT THE BEST POSSIBLE TRAINING AND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE AND THE OCC MED CORPORATE WORLD IS YOURS!