1998 must be recertified every 10 years, in part on the basis of continuing education credits.
During 1998 the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) sponsored 26 educational opportunities that reached more than 4,200 participants, and jointly sponsored more than 100 other educational activities, live and via distance leaning (American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 1999b). ACOEM’s two conferences each year—in the spring and fall—provide courses, classes, and presentations at which physicians can obtain continuing education credits. Typical offerings are full-day postgraduate seminars on such topics as myofascial pain syndrome, silica toxicology, occupational skin diseases, and travel medicine, along with medicolegal testimony and occupational medicine self-assessment review. ACOEM also offers professional development courses at other locations and dates. The 1999 courses were Impairment and Disability Evaluation, Medical Review Officer Training, and Occupational Medicine Board Review. The component organizations (regional occupational medicine organizations) also provide continuing education activities with annual or periodic conferences. A survey of ACOEM members (The Gary Siegal Organization, Inc., 1996) found that 75 percent of respondents indicated that they had received some funding for continuing education in 1996. Of those who did, 32 percent received $1,500 or less, 44 percent received between $1,500 and $3,000, and 24 percent received more than $3,000.
Many of the university programs provide 1- to 3-hour long continuing education activities at weekly, fortnightly, or monthly conferences. Universities also offer a regular catalog of 1–3 day conferences or courses on specific areas. Among these varied venues a sufficient number of continuing education activities appear to be available for all physicians both to keep them current and to fulfill their requirements for licensure and recertification.
According to a former president of ACOEM (Anstadt, 1999), the number of graduates from residency programs is insufficient to meet the current and future demands for occupational medicine physicians. The supply is below the numbers needed for replacement of existing occupational medicine physicians. The occupational medicine residencies report difficulties in the following areas:
attracting sufficient number of applicants,
funding the residents, especially for the academic year, and
having sufficient numbers in some programs to constitute a critical mass.