October 20, 2020
Thomas Nasca, MD MACP
President and CEO
Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60611
Dear Dr. Nasca:
As you know, the ACGME Review Committee for Preventive Medicine reviews programs in the three specialties of Aerospace Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Public Health/General Preventive Medicine. Historically, the program requirements for all three specialties have been combined together in one set of program requirements and the three specialties have been listed as the single specialty of Preventive Medicine on the ACGME website. This structure is contributing to confusion in the medical community and among others that Occupational Medicine is a subspecialty of Preventive Medicine and not a separate specialty. For example, medical students and residents have difficulty finding Occupational Medicine on the ACGME website and other organizations such as the AMA FREIDA and the NRMP also rely on the ACGME list of specialties. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine requests that the ACGME list Occupational Medicine as a distinct specialty.
Occupational Medicine, Aerospace Medicine, and Public Health/General Preventive Medicine have each been a primary specialty with separate primary certificates as defined by the American Board of Medical Specialties since at least 1955. The American Board of Preventive Medicine issues certificates for the specialties of Aerospace Medicine, Occupational Medicine, and Public Health/General Preventive Medicine and for several subspecialties including Addiction Medicine and Clinical Informatics. While this may be a source of the confusion, it is not different from other ABMS member boards which issue certificates in multiple specialties such as The American Board of Radiology and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that this challenge extends beyond medical professionals as individuals try to differentiate the special expertise of occupational medicine physicians from public health/general preventive medicine physicians. Occupational Medicine physicians have played a significant role safely returning workers to the workplace and advising companies, based on our expertise in workplace issues, epidemiology and public health. Increased visibility will potentially increase the numbers of occupational medicine physicians trained to address important issues for both workers and the workplace.
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine requests that ACGME identify Occupational Medicine separately from Preventive Medicine. We suggest this be done on the web site page for the Review Committee for Preventive Medicine as well as the public pages of WebADS. We would also suggest separate program requirements for Occupational Medicine.
We would be happy to work with you and the Review Committee for Preventive Medicine to discuss this further.
Beth A. Baker, MD, MPH
President, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine