Preventive Medicine Physician: Job Description, Salary & Requirements

Many people wait until they have a health problem to see a doctor, unaware that preventative medicine physicians work every day to try to prevent them from being injured or getting sick. Read on to learn what preventative medicine doctors do.

Career Definition of a Preventative Medicine Physician

Preventative medicine physicians prioritize using their medical knowledge to help keep people from having health problems. They may be involved with public health education and public health initiatives so that they can help people make better decisions about their health or be involved with working to stop the spread of infectious diseases. Some also focus on preventing workplace illnesses. Preventative medicine physicians may also assess treatment methods to help determine the most effective ways to combat specific medical issues. These physicians may also treat patients, particularly if their condition relates to a disease or illness they are trying to keep from spreading.

As part of their duties, preventative medicine physicians may be responsible for overseeing other medical staff. They may coordinate with public health educators and others involved with informing the public. Some may advise other professionals about ways to safeguard water supplies or how to safely dispose of waste. Their duties can also involve determining who is most likely to be affected by specific medical problems, including illnesses and injuries, and developing strategies to minimize those risks.

Educational Requirements Medical degree and license
Job Skills Communication, interpersonal, analytical and mathematical skills; leadership, problem-solving and computer skills; legal knowledge; physical fitness
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

All medical doctors are required to complete medical school. They must earn a Doctor of Medicine and earn state licensure. Preventive medicine physicians must also completion a residency or fellowship in preventative medicine or a related field. When starting postsecondary studies, it's common for aspiring medical doctors to pursue their bachelor's degree in biology or chemistry.

Required Skills

Preventative medicine physicians work directly with patients, with other medical professionals and with employers and those involved with working with hazardous materials. This means that they need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills. They also need to be able to effectively relay important information and active listening skills so that they can fully process relevant information. Analytical skills are also required to assess test results and medical data for diagnosing patients, identifying relevant symptoms and determining factors that may increase a person's risk of illness or injury.

These physicians may be required to work long hours, particularly when treating patients or dealing with an outbreak of an illness, so they should be physically fit and able to perform their duties for prolonged periods of time. Leadership skills are also important, since preventative medicine physicians should be comfortable directing nurses and other medical professionals to ensure that patients are cared for properly.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the occupational category of 'physicians and surgeons, all other' earned an annual median income of $206,920 in 2016. The BLS also provided information about the expected job growth in this occupational field. A 13% job growth for these medical professionals is projected by the BLS from 2016 to 2026.

Related Careers

The following list contains links to articles about natural medicine doctors, doctors of infectious diseases, field epidemiologists and medical research administrators. Those interested in being a preventative medicine physician may also be interested in these career options.

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