A volunteer or part-time job at a health care facility or medical practice where preventive medicine is offered is a good way to learn more about this field and see if it aligns with your interests and skills. This also gives you opportunities to observe preventive medicine physicians on the job and see what their daily tasks are like. You could also arrange an informational interview with a physician to find out how they got started in their career and ask them what they would recommend to students interested in this field. Your school's career services office can help you find job opportunities in preventive medicine. Read articles and find helpful career resources on the Web sites of professional associations, such as the American Association of Public Health Physicians, https://www.aaphp.org, and the American College of Preventive Medicine, https://www.acpm.org.
Preventive medicine physicians are concerned with the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and defined populations. They treat and diagnose people to help reduce and prevent disease, disability, and death and to help patients maintain good health. Preventive medicine physicians hold a license as either medical doctors (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathy (D.O.).
According to the American College of Preventive Medicine, preventive medicine "has three sub-specialty areas: public health and general preventive medicine, occupational medicine, and aerospace medicine." Public health and general preventive medicine physicians are skilled in population-based public health and have knowledge of clinical practice in a variety of settings.
Preventive medicine physicians are responsible for identifying groups that are vulnerable to specific disease or injuries that can be prevented. They direct or manage prevention programs in specialty areas, such as infectious disease and environmental medicine. They may also direct health programs to educate the public about topics such as preventable diseases and injuries, nutrition, immunizations, food service sanitation, water supply safety, disposing of waste and sewage, and insect control. Preventive medicine physicians review prescribed risk-reduction measures and other types of interventions to determine if they are effective or if these measures need to be altered. They work closely with other physicians, nurses, statisticians, and other health care professionals.
The job requires strong technology skills. In addition to e-mail and spreadsheet software, preventive medicine physicians frequently use analytical and scientific software in their work. The most common programs used in preventive medicine practice include OpenEpi; SAS; The MathWorks MATLAB; and Tidepool Scientific Software ToxCalc. They also use patient electronic medical record (EMR) software, and database interface and query software, such as Microsoft Access and Tidepool Scientific Software Comprehension Environmental Toxicity Information System Software (CETIS).