Faculty of Occupational Medicine
Faculty of Occupational Medicine
The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) was
established over thirty years ago, to develop and maintain high
standards of training and professional integrity in the specialty
of occupational medicine. It sets exams, supervises training and
supports physicians in their continued professional development.
The Faculty also acts as an authoritative body for consultation in
matters of education and public interest concerning occupational
This article aims to highlight the role and
varied career opportunities for an occupational physician and how
the Faculty supports its trainees through the training process.
What is Occupational Medicine?
Occupational Medicine is the medical specialty
which covers the multi-faceted relationship between health and
It is concerned with ensuring that workplaces
and work practices are safe and not detrimental to employees’
health, and that employees are fit for the job they are doing. If
there are problems, either with the workplace or with an employee’s
fitness, the occupational physician’s role is to advise on
adjustments to the workplace, and/or to give appropriate advice and
support to the employee.
Occupational medicine also has an important
role to play in rehabilitating employees back into work, after
sickness and injury and advises third parties, such as insurers and
pension companies about retirement on grounds of ill health, for
What are the career opportunities for an Occupational
Occupational physicians have a multitude of
options for how they can develop their careers and make a
difference to the lives of the working age population.
The variety of job possibilities include areas
such as travel medicine, disability assessment medicine, aviation
medicine, occupational dermatology, respiratory medicine, sports
and exercise medicine, radiation medicine and diving medicine.
Naturally, many of the largest organisations,
in both manufacturing and service industries have their own-in
house occupational health services, as do universities and other
public bodies, such as the fire-service and the police. Many
medium-sized organisations make use of commercial providers of
occupational health services, or employ part-time occupational
So there are also jobs for occupational
physicians employed by commercial providers; there are many
providers, large and small, which operate throughout the UK.
Doctors working for multinational companies often travel abroad and
can work in unusual and challenging environments.
Occupational medicine is an important
specialty within all three armed services. Clearly, because armed
forces operate in such an arduous physical and psychological
environment, occupational health of all personnel is of paramount
importance to maintain the service's fighting ability.
The NHS, increasingly acknowledges the
occupational health aspects of its own workforce and also the value
of keeping it healthy. A proportion of our members of the Faculty
of Occupational Medicine, therefore work in the NHS.
An advantage of Occupational Medicine is that
practice differs greatly from one sector to another and it
therefore can provide a varied career, with movement across sectors
being very common.
Training in Occupational Medicine
- Resources for Medical Schools and
The Faculty hosts on their website a
series of easily accessible and flexible teaching resources in
occupational health to medical schools. The aim is to ensure that
all medical graduates, whichever specialty they pursue, carry
forward into their career a general awareness of the health and
work issues which will undoubtedly affect a significant proportion
of their patients. You can
view the material on the FOM website.
Entry into post-graduate medical training in
Occupational Medicine follows a similar pattern to other clinical
specialties. Specialty Registrar candidates (STRs) need a minimum
entry criteria of two years post registration. In years ST1 and
ST2, you must complete core training in medicine, in an appropriate
specialty, such as, surgery, psychiatry, public health or general
You then have to apply for a GMC approved
training post, these are available in the NHS, private sector and
armed forces. The training takes a maximum of four years, during
which time you’ll be annually assessed, to check you’ve gained the
necessary competencies to progress to the next year.
During the training programme, the Faculty
provides support and advice to trainees, through a number of ways;
these include via its network of regional specialty advisors and
Faculty staff and officers, tailored training days and regular
specialty specific updates.
In addition to fulfilling the requirements of
the training programme, you’ll be asked to write a dissertation.
This takes the form of a research project, relating to an aspect of
occupational medicine. There will be an exit examination at the end
of the training course. Upon completion, you would receive a
certificate of completion of specialist training (CCT) and you’ll
then be invited to apply to the GMC for inclusion onto the
specialist register. You would also gain the qualification; Member
of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (MFOM). You can learn more
about the specialist
training programme at the FOM website.
- Diploma in Occupational Medicine:
You may have already decided to pursue a
career, in another specialty. Many GPs, for instance find
themselves being the first point of contact for occupational health
related problems. We therefore also provide a Diploma in
Occupational Medicine, which is a generalist qualification, aimed
at the part-time practitioner. There is a strong take-up of this
qualification by GPs.
Further details about the diploma are available on the FOM
Case study - ‘Why I became an Occupational
Finally, we have aimed to highlight the
variations and vast opportunities which go with being an
occupational physician. A FOM Member has outlined why she
finds her career rewarding and interesting:
“I had my first contact with
Occupational Medicine as a medical student in the 1980s, during my
last year of medical training in Cluj Napoca, Romania. I was
working in a Hospital for occupational diseases in one of the
largest mining areas of the country. I became aware how significant
work and other social factors could be as determinants of people’s
A short spell studying and working at the
Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh was professionally
and personally life-changing for me and I decided to settle in the
I have never regretted my career choice
and now after 16 years of specialist occupational health practice,
I still find work interesting and rewarding. I enjoy the variety of
medical and non-medical aspects of a specialty that has to keep
abreast of advances, not only within a broad field of medical
practice, but also in subjects such as ergonomics, toxicology,
employment and the law.”
For further information about the
specialty, visit the website of the Faculty of Occupational
Medicine or call on 0207 317 5890.