Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Occupational Medicine Needs Filled by Ou Health Center Program

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Occupational Medicine Needs Filled by Ou Health Center Program

Article excerpt

At the beginning of this century, physicians who treated U.S. workers basically were surgeons, performing amputations and sewing up traumatic injuries.

A classic example was the railroad surgeon who provided on-site trauma control, but was not concerned with injury prevention or control of diseases which could affect employees.

Nearly 90 years later, occupational medicine has become more complex and is concerned with prevention of illness and injury, according to Dr. Roy DeHart, professor of occupational medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. DeHart also is director of the Occupational Medicine Division and Residency Program within the OU Department of Family Medicine.

"It's not just knots and bumps and cuts and lumps anymore," DeHart said. "That's the way it used to be, but occupational medicine now is a part of preventive medicine because we're trying to recognize the physician's role in preventing injury and disease in the workplace."

The OU Health Sciences Center occupational medicine residency program was begun three years ago under the usual provisional accreditation. The OU program recently received full accreditation for three years from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

"There are only approximately 1,400 certified occupational medicine specialists in the U.S.," DeHart said. "Probably as many as 5,000 more easily could be placed."

To help point out the shortage of occupational medicine physicians, the Institute of Medicine published a document in November entitled, "The Role of the Primary Care Physician in Occupational and Environmental Medicine."

"This document points out that there is never going to be enough specialists, so some training must be directed at family medicine physicians, internal medicine physicians and emergency physicians to prepare them to provide occupational health services appropriately and properly," DeHart said. …

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