Preventive Medicine Physician: Education, Degree & Training

Nov 20, 2017

This article explores the type of work that preventative medicine physicians do, as well as the training requirements involved in pursuing a career in this field.

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Career Definition of a Preventative Medicine Physician

Preventative medicine physicians are licensed medical doctors. They may concentrate on treating patients and developing a strategy to minimize their risks of being affected by specific health problems that may be genetic or caused by lifestyle choices. Many preventative medicine physicians concentrate on other areas of specialization. Some work in occupational medicine and are responsible for determining how to maintain healthy workplace environments so that employees are not affected by preventative illnesses or injuries.

Some preventative medicine physicians concentrate on public health. Their work can involve identifying potential health risks that could affect their community and determining how to minimize those risks. They may be involved in public health initiatives to promote healthy lifestyle choices or to provide public health education about lifestyle changes that can minimize people's risks of being affected by specific diseases.

Educational Requirements Medical degree, residency
Job Skills Compassion, interpersonal skills, communication skills, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, leadership skills
Median Salary (2016)* $206,920 (physicians and surgeons, all other)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education and Training

A preventative medicine physician must complete medical school. After this, they are required to complete a residency in preventative medicine. This involves a combination of studies in clinical education and a two-year residency program. They learn how to assess environments for health risks, how to determine the effectiveness of health programs and how to identify potential health risks. Like all physicians, preventative medicine physicians must be licensed to practice medicine. Once they've obtained board certification in this specialty they must also continue taking approved courses in order to maintain their certification.

Required Skills

Since preventative medicine physicians may work with patients and must discuss sensitive medical information with them they need to be compassionate and have strong interpersonal skills to ensure patients feel comfortable divulging medical issues or concerns in order to have as much information as possible to work with when assessing their patients. They may direct assistants, nurses and other medical professionals so they need to have strong leadership skills and strong communication skills. They also need to pay attention to all details and consider all relevant data to be able to form accurate conclusions. Since their objective is to prevent illness they need to have strong problem-solving skills to accurately assess potential health risks and ways to reduce or contain those health threats.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes preventative medicine physicians in a category designated as 'physicians and surgeons, all other'. According to the BLS, as of 2016 the median salary for these professionals was $206,920 per year. The BLS also indicated that the job growth projections for physicians in this category was expected to be 13% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average job growth rate projected for all occupations during this time period.

Related Careers

Those who are interested in preventative medicine may also be interested in other professions in the health field that involve helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent disease. Use the links listed here to learn about the work that natural health dieticians, nutritionists and holistic health educators do.

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