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Institute of Medicine Report on Shortage of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physicians

In 1989, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated a national shortage of 3100 to 5500 physicians with special competence in occupational and environmental (O-E) medicine. In 1991, an IOM subcommittee made six recommendations concerning how federal and state governments, medical schools, and medical societies can counter this shortage in a report entitled "Addressing the Physician Shortage in Occupational and Environmental Medicine." The study was sponsored by the Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and Environmental Protection Agency.

IOM's six specific measures to alleviate the shortage of O-E physicians are: 1) integrate occupational and environmental medicine into medical school curricula to increase students' interest in these fields; 2) establish 10-15 centers to train future teachers and researchers in occupational and environmental medicine; 3) expand occupational medicine to include the fledgling field of environmental medicine, thereby increasing the number of physicians competent to practice in either area; 4) increase funding to support medical school faculty members committed to teaching and research in occupational and environmental medicine; 5) increase support for residency and fellowship training; and 6) adopt new routes to certification and accreditation in occupational and environmental medicine.

Copies of "Addressing the Physician Shortage in Occupational and Environmental Medicine" are available from the Director, Division of Health Education, ATSDR, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Mailstop E-33, Atlanta, GA 30333; telephone (404) 639-0730.

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