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Preventive Medicine Physicians

The Job

Preventive medicine physicians are concerned with the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and defined populations. They treat and diagnose people to help reduce and prevent disease, disability, and death and to help patients maintain good health. Preventive medicine physicians hold a license as either medical doctors (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathy (D.O.). 

According to the American College of Preventive Medicine, preventive medicine has "three specialty areas with common core knowledge, skills, and competencies that emphasize different populations, environments, or practice settings: aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and public health and general preventive medicine." Public health and general preventive medicine physicians are skilled in population-based public health and have knowledge of clinical practice in a variety of settings.

Preventive medicine physicians are responsible for identifying groups that are vulnerable to specific disease or injuries that can be prevented. They direct or manage prevention programs in specialty areas, such as infectious disease and environmental medicine. They may also direct health programs to educate the public about topics such as preventable diseases and injuries, nutrition, immunizations, food service sanitation, water supply safety, disposing of waste and sewage, and insect control. Preventive medicine physicians review prescribed risk-reduction measures and other types of interventions to determine if they are effective or if these measures need to be altered. They work closely with other physicians, nurses, statisticians, and other health care professionals.

The job requires strong technology skills. In addition to e-mail and spreadsheet software, preventive medicine physicians frequently use analytical and scientific software in their work. The most common programs used in preventive medicine practice include OpenEpi; SAS; The MathWorks MATLAB; and Tidepool Scientific Software ToxCalc. They also use patient electronic medical record (EMR) software, and database interface and query software, such as Microsoft Access and Tidepool Scientific Software Comprehension Environmental Toxicity Information System Software (CETIS).

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