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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Oct;41(4 Suppl 3):S296-301. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.06.007.

Integrating environmental health into medical education.

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Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, Environmental Medicine and Education Services Branch, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Although environmental factors contribute to more than 25% of all global disease, and toxic agents ranked fifth in underlying causes of U.S. deaths in 2000, environmental medicine education is largely omitted in the continuum of U.S. medical education. The paucity of specialists trained in environmental medicine (i.e., occupational medicine and other preventive medicine specialties and subspecialties), coupled with the lack of adequate general medical education on how to prevent, diagnose, refer, or treat patients exposed to hazardous substances in the environment, contributes to lost opportunities for primary prevention or early intervention to mitigate or minimize environmentally related disease burden. Survey findings of graduating medical students over the past few years have identified environmental health as a medical school topic area that can be improved. This article reflects a panel presentation on the challenge of including environmental health in general medical education. It was given at the 2010 "Patients and Populations: Public Health in Medical Education" conference cosponsored by the CDC and the American Association of Medical Colleges. A variety of educational strategies, models, and educational resources are presented that illustrate how recommended competency-based environmental health content can be integrated into medical education to better prepare medical students and physicians without specialized expertise in environmental medicine to provide or facilitate environmental preventive or curative patient care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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