Doctors who specialize in treating patients with work-related illnesses or injuries are known as occupational health doctors. A professional’s knowledge of general medicine is combined with an understanding of the physical risks that people may face at work. Doctors collaborate closely with nurses and occupational safety specialists to fully comprehend the hazards that exist in the workplace and to tailor diagnoses and treatment accordingly. The majority of occupational health doctors run their own practices, but some are hired specific companies to monitor worksite conditions and treat employees on the spot.
Preventative medicine techniques, such as identifying potential work hazards and scheduling regular checkups with at-risk employees, make up a large part of many occupational health doctors’ jobs. A doctor might go to a job site to do a walkthrough of the facilities and assess the risks that employees might face. Excessive noise, polluted air, and dangerous machinery are examples of such hazards. Doctors also look at how many hours employees are required to work in order to consider the effects of stress and exhaustion on their health. Doctors can monitor changes in workers’ health conditions and determine the best ways to prevent illness and injury meeting with them on a regular basis.
Occupational health doctors can also be found in private practices, where they see patients appointment. To diagnose medical problems, they use their knowledge of human health as well as their specialized knowledge of workplace hazards. Some organizations work with very specific groups, such as coal miners, to provide the best possible care. A doctor who treats miners is aware of the risk of lung damage from inhaling dust particles, as well as the dangers of large mining equipment in general. He or she may have specialized medical equipment to track the progress of long-term lung problems and monitor lung capacity.
People who want to become occupational health doctors in most countries must first earn a master’s degree from an accredited university. The majority of medical school programs include at least four years of postgraduate coursework and lead to doctoral degrees in medicine or osteopathic medicine. New doctors must typically complete one to two years of internships in general hospitals after graduation, followed up to six years of residencies. The last few years of a residency can be completed at an established occupational health doctor’s practice to familiarize a new physician with the nuances of the job. A doctor can begin treating patients independently after gaining experience as a resident and passing all applicable licensing exams.