A specialist in Preventive Medicine focuses on the health of individuals and defined populations in order to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being, and to prevent disease, disability, and premature death. They may be a specialist in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine, Occupational Medicine, or Aerospace Medicine. The distinctive components of Preventive Medicine include:
• Biostatistics and the application of biostatistical principles and methodology;
• Epidemiology and its application to population-based medicine and research;
• Health services management and administration including: developing, assessing, and assuring health policies; planning, implementing, directing, budgeting, and evaluating population health and disease management programs; and utilizing legislative and regulatory processes to enhance health;
• Control of environmental factors that may adversely affect health;
• Control and prevention of occupational factors that may adversely affect health safety;
• Clinical preventive medicine activities, including measures to promote health and prevent the occurrence, progression, and disabling effects of disease and injury; and
• Assessment of social, cultural, and behavioral influences on health.
Specialty training required prior to certification: Three years
A preventive medicine physician may become board-certified in three specialties as defined by the American Board of Preventive Medicine.
Aerospace medicine focuses on the clinical care, research and operational support of the health, safety and performance of crew and passengers of air and space vehicles, together with the support personnel who assist operation of such vehicles. This population often works and lives in remote, isolated, extreme or enclosed environments under conditions of physical and psychological stress. Practitioners strive for an optimal human-machine match in occupational settings rich with environmental hazards and engineering countermeasures.
Occupational medicine focuses on the health of workers, including the ability to perform work; the physical, chemical, biological and social environments of the workplace; and the health outcomes of environmental exposures. Practitioners in this field address the promotion of health in the workplace, and the prevention and management of occupational and environmental injury, illness and disability.
Public Health and General Preventive Medicine
Public health and general preventive medicine focuses on promoting health, preventing disease, and managing the health of communities and defined populations. These practitioners combine population-based public health skills with knowledge of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention-oriented clinical practice in a wide variety of settings.
Career paths can include working in public health, occupational medicine, aerospace medicine, clinical medicine, academic medicine, managed care, research, informatics, policy development and global health. These positions are often located in local, state and federal health agencies, professional health organizations, educational institutions, nonprofit health organizations, public health departments, industry, and all levels of government.
Traditionally, many physicians entering the field of preventive medicine had completed training and worked in another clinical specialty, but found they lacked the necessary skills to manage and treat larger populations, a core component of preventive medicine. Today, residency training for preventive medicine includes a preliminary clinical year (PY1) and specialty-specific training (PY2 and PY3) in general preventive medicine, occupational medicine or aerospace medicine. The PY2 and PY3 year includes a graduate degree for a Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (MS) or Master of Business Administration (MBA).
According to the 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges salary survey, the median compensation for an academic medicine position in preventive medicine ranges from $144,000 to $172,000 in early career to $232,000 to $250,000 in late career.
American College of Preventive Medicine
455 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
25 Northwest Point Blvd., Suite 700
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Aerospace Medical Association
320 South Henry St. Alexandria, VA 22314