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Preventive Medicine offers rewarding, plentiful, diverse and challenging careers, plus:

  • The chance to make a significant contribution to society,
  • A wide variety of practice settings,
  • A balanced and satisfying lifestyle, and
  • Upward and lateral mobility and advancement.

Our Graduate Education & Careers section features descriptions of ACPM's activities in support of graduate medical education, a directory of all preventive medicine residency programs, and specific sessions for Residency Program Directors, current preventive medicine residents, and prospective preventive medicine residents.

Preventive Medicine is an exciting specialty that links the knowledge and skills of clinical medicine with the special skill sets of medical management and population health. Specialists work in diverse settings to promote health and to modify or eliminate the risks of disease, injury, disability, and death. Career paths include managed care, public health, occupational medicine, aerospace medicine, clinical medicine, informatics, policy development, academic medicine, international medicine, and research, covering all levels of government, educational institutions, organized medical care programs in industry, as well as voluntary health agencies and professional health organizations.

Preventive medicine is one of 25 recognized medical specialties represented in the American Board of Specialties (ABMS). Completion of residency training in preventive medicine is an essential step to become certified in one or more of the preventive medicine specialty areas: General Preventive Medicine/Public Health (referred to throughout the directory as GPH), Occupational Medicine (OM), and Aerospace Medicine (AM). There are currently 84 accredited Preventive Medicine residency training programs in the United States. Generally, programs are located in schools of medicine, schools of public health, state or local health departments, and in federal agencies (i.e., Centers for Disease Control) and military bases (i.e., Walter Reed Army Institute of Research). These programs are usually small and take an individualized approach to training. There are approximately 450 residents in training every year.

Residency program accreditation is accomplished through the Preventive Medicine Residency Review Committee (RRC) of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The ACGME-RRC is the body which establishes accreditation requirements for residency programs and which reviews the programs to determine their compliance with the requirements. You can contact them at www.acgme.org.

Board certification is offered through the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM). Established in 1948, ABPM is the body with responsibility for determining physician eligibility for certification and recertification in preventive medicine. The Board can be contacted at www.abprevmed.org.


In addition to the knowledge of basic clinical sciences and skills common to all physicians, the distinctive aspects of preventive medicine include knowledge of and competence in these seven areas:

I. Application of biostatistical principles in methodology;

II. Recognition of epidemiological principles in methodology;

III. Planning, administration, and evaluation of health and medical programs and the evaluation of outcomes of health behavior and medical care;

IV. Recognition, assessment, and control of environmentalhazards to health, including those of occupational environments;

V. Recognition of the social, cultural, and behavioral factors in medicine;

VI. Application and evaluation of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention; and

VII. Assessment of population and individual health needs.

A preventive medicine residency program consists of three years: Clinical, Academic and Practicum years.

The Clinical Year is a graduate year of clinical training and experience involving direct patient care. Most preventive medicine residency programs do not offer the clinical year of training, and thus do not participate in the National Matching Program. Most residents obtain their clinical training through an ACGME-accredited residency program in a clinical (preferably primary care) specialty. In fact, some programs encourage candidates to apply after completion of a full residency in such a clinical and/or primary care specialty. For further information about this, including nearby or affiliated clinical training programs, contact the program director.

The Academic Year is a year of academic training in the fundamental disciplines of preventive medicine leading to the Master in Pubic Health (MPH). Alternate masters' level degrees may be accepted by the ABPM, such as the Master of Science in Public Health (MsPH) and Master of Science (MS). Required coursework includes biostatistics, epidemiology, health services organization and administration, environmental and occupational health, and social and behavioral influences on health. Participation in research activities is also required. Residents will also take electives relevant to their area of specialization.

The Practicum Year, or field year, is conducted with supervised experience relevant to the particular specialty. Examples of practicum experiences, which generally last 2-3 months, include: county health departments, health maintenance organizations, peer review organizations, community and migrant health centers, occupational health clinics, industrial sites, regulatory agencies, NASA, and OSHA, to name a few.

In many programs, the academic and practicum years are structured concurrently, so that residents are simultaneously undertaking their academic course work and gaining their field experience over a two year period.



Combined residency training is designed to lead to board certification in each of the medical specialties providing training. Sometimes, combined training will reduce the length of training for both specialties by as much as one year. Since 1993, ABPM and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) have had in place formal, approved guidelines for combined training. This training is designed to lead to board certification in both preventive medicine and internal medicine, following four years of accredited residency training plus one year of preventive medicine practice. Currently, these are the only guidelines approved by the ABPM for combined training with a primary care specialty. There are several programs currently which have been approved under the ABPM/ABIM guidelines. A number of other preventive medicine residency programs offer "informal" combined programs with internal medicine; that is, they have not yet applied for the review and approval process under the dual-board guidelines. There are also preventive medicine residency programs which offer informal combined training with other specialties (i.e., family practice, pediatrics, emergency medicine).

Residencies which offer combined training programs must maintain their accreditation status through each specialty RRC. The ACGME does not accredit combined training programs of any kind.


This directory
includes detailed information on each residency program. After reviewing the profiles of programs you are interested in, you should contact those programs directly for further information and for application instructions. The program directors may also be able to provide you with names of specialists whom you could contact for information.
For a list of Preventive Medicine (Public Health, General, Occupational and Aerospace) programs that participate in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) visit,http://www.aamc.org/students/eras/start.htm.

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