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J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Nov;54(11):1324-9. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31826bb509.

Career paths in occupational medicine.

Author information

  • 1Community, Environment, and Policy Division, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.



To describe career path patterns for occupational medicine (OM) physicians.


A convenience sample of 129 occupational physicians described work activities and locations at several career points up to 20 years ago, first OM position, and 10 years after expectations.


Clinical activities were important throughout (eg, 41% and 46% of occupational physicians reported frequently treating patients 20 years ago and currently). Practice locations changed more markedly, with increased multisite clinics and hospital/medical center-based practices. Performing mainly clinical activities in a first job increased from 82% to 97% over the past 20 years. Career transitions between clinical and nonclinical roles were common (40% of participants). Many anticipate transition to nonclinical work over 10 years.


Activities have not fundamentally changed, but practice locations have evolved. Both clinical and management activities remain important, and path to managerial positions increasingly begins in clinical practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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