Development in education in occupational medicine in the United Kingdom.
Postgraduate medical education in the United Kingdom has changed. Now, five years of undergraduate training merely prepare a doctor for postgraduate training, whatever his specialty will be. After undergraduate training (and a year in hospital) all doctors do three years General Professional Training followed by some four years Higher Specialist Training. Occupational physicians do the same General Professional Training as physicians or primary care general practitioners. Their Higher Specialist Training lasts four years and is based on supervised practical experience in the factory or other place of work. After the first two years of this they take an examination covering the broad field of occupational medicine (AFOM). After the next two years of supervised practical experience the doctor has to present evidence of special study and can then become specialist (MFOM). In the U.K. about 70% of occupational physicians work part time. Their supervised practical experience is therefore spread over a long period. Many stop at the AFOM. If, later in their career, they change to full time in occupational medicine, they can proceed to the specialist qualification (MFOM). Most part-timers do other work and therefore cannot go away to one of the few universities that provide courses for the AFOM. Those who live near one of the few universities can go on day release. A "distance teaching" project has been started to take teaching material on occupational medicine such as audio tapes, tape slides, and video tapes to these doctor. It will be supplemented by local seminars and short courses at universities.
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