There are so many specialties and healthcare niches that it can be hard to keep up sometimes! Considering that medicine is an industry that never really rests, it’s only natural that doctors are needed in lots of different areas throughout society. One specialty that provides jobs different from many standard hospital-based positions is occupational medicine. Whether you’re a student or looking for a new professional pursuit, we’ll detail the role of occupational medicine doctors and where they fit in healthcare!
Understanding the Role of Occupational Medicine Doctors
So before we go any farther, what do occupational medicine doctors do exactly? On a very basic level, professionals in this field work to prevent illnesses and injury in the workplace. In many cases, the role of occupational medicine doctors is to assist workers in industries notorious for serious health risks, a high rate of injury, or seasonal illnesses. Additionally, doctors in this field remain onsite to advise companies on the best practices for employee health.
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Present in the Workplace
The role of occupational medicine doctors will vary based on the particular type of business they’re working with. However, their success relies on being present in the working environment itself rather than fitting a job description. Occupational medicine physicians evaluate each workplace for potential hazards and interpret the prevalence of past injuries or incidents in order to provide recommendations and treatments.
When occupational medicine professionals make improvements to employee health, companies save costs and can actually increase productivity in many cases. The prevention of certain health risks is almost as important as treating the illnesses and injuries themselves!
Helping Employees Return
When preventative measures arrive just a bit too late, the role of occupational medicine doctors also encompasses assisting employees returning to work after an incident. Although worker’s compensation can cover one’s main medical expenses, it is sometimes necessary for healthcare professionals to ensure an injured or ill employee can continue working. Again, occupational medicine physicians work to maintain and promote the proper safety practices and procedures for optimum worker health.
Providing Prevention in the Workplace
Another area where the role of occupational medicine doctors is important is flu season. Each year businesses lose billions of dollars just because people are off work with the flu. Considering that not just anyone can handle and administer these vaccines, professionals are often brought onsite to help stave off those huge financial losses. In addition to a good sick leave policy, occupational medicine physicians make a difference in factories, schools, corporations, and many other workplaces across the nation!
Still, flu season isn’t the only time of year that these physicians work on preventing infectious diseases in the workplace. For workers who are routinely exposed to blood or other bodily fluids capable of transmitting disease, occupational medicine doctors are instrumental in mitigating these risks.
Depending on the line of work, onsite doctors will provide a rapid evaluation of both the source of fluid and the exposed employee. Not only does this serve to cut insurance costs, but it will mean that individuals remain healthy while working with hazardous materials.
Ultimately, the role of occupational medicine doctors is to champion the health and safety issues that companies have. The other main responsibilities of this job also include things like providing DOT exams, employee physicals, screening people for travel medicine, and urgent care like splinting, laceration treatments, and even sutures. Honestly, these positions can take physicians just about anywhere in the country to really make a difference for employees in need. Not only will they work with people directly involved in a workplace, but occupational medicine physicians get to make recommendations to management so everything continues to run safely and smoothly.
Do you have experience with occupational medicine or are you just getting into the field? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
November 24, 2018
December 15, 2019
I was injured at work falling several feet to the bottom of a barge gangway. I had a appointment with occupational doctor it was horrible my doctor did not speak good English he kept telling me I was going to loose all kinds of money laughing at me didn’t go over my medical records or x-rays passed me off to a outside physical therapist. Feeling a little confused. Thinking of getting a hold of member services.
December 16, 2019
Sorry to hear you had that experience! Are you all healed now? I think it’s definitely worth telling someone. It’s important to hold doctors accountable and provide feedback.
February 10, 2020
My husband went to the occupational medicine clinic for his medical certificate exam. All of his medications have not changed since 2003 and the doctor there still has not signed off on his certificate. In the meantime, his certificate has now expired….I hope this doctor has a good lawyer because I feel my husband is being harassed by him.