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What Is an Occupational Physician and How to Become One

What Is an Occupational Physician?

Occupational physicians specialize in workplace health issues. Your duties include assessment of injuries, screening patients, and determining the health and safety conditions of a workplace. You may work as a consultant to assess the extent of an injury or health problem and its relation to worker’s compensation claims, or work to provide recommendations to an employer on how best to prevent future workplace injuries. A career as an occupational physician requires you have a medical degree with a focus in occupational medicine and significant experience with legal issues and regulations related to workplace health. Experience in a clinical setting is also important. Skills that are helpful for the job include strong written and verbal communication, attention to detail, and the ability to work dispassionately to determine compensation benefits.

How to Become an Occupational Physician

The career path to becoming an Occupational Physician begins similarly to the path for many other doctors. Occupational Physicians must earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be accepted into a medical school. After completing medical school, you'll need to pass Medical Licensing Part I and II exams and then select a residency program for Occupational Physicians. To earn board certification in Occupational and Environmental Medicine through the American Board of Preventative Medicine, you'll need to complete the specific two-year residency program. You will likely also need to take and pass a specific state-administered exam to practice as an Occupational Physician in your state.