OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE, sometimes abbreviated “OEM,” or simply “Occupational Medicine,” is a Board-Certified preventive medicine specialty focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of work-related illness, injury, and toxic exposures. By focusing on direct patient care, injury prevention, rehabilitation, disability management, investigations, evaluations, biostatistics, and policy, OEM specialists are physicians who play an invaluable role in today’s complex workplace. To become an Occupational Medicine specialist, a physician must first complete an accredited residency in Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, or Family Medicine, and then complete an additional 2-year fellowship in Occupational Medicine. Candidates may then be eligible for Board Certification by the American Board of Preventive Medicine with a specialty certificate in Occupational Medicine.
Occupational Medicine physicians work in a variety of settings including clinical practices, workplaces, hospitals, universities, and governmental agencies. Occupational Medicine specialists may also focus on specific industries (e.g. aerospace) or areas including toxicology workplace exposures, epidemiology, and workplace safety. Occupational Medicine physicians are often caught at the competing nexus of employers who want workers to safely return to work, and workers who may want additional time off, special accommodations, or disability. Such situations, along with the management of workplace injuries and toxic exposures, represent the most common reasons for Occupational Medicine expert witnesses to be called into litigation.