Preventive medicine specialists work with patients to prevent disease and illness by educating patients on how to live a healthier lifestyle in addition to performing research and studying public health issues.

Joe Theismann talks about The Prevention Plan

About Preventive Medicine

Preventive medicine is a specialized medical field encompassing the provision of preventive medical care to patients – instead of treating symptoms of disease or injury, preventive medicine serves to provide safeguards and methods that will prevent diseases and provide patients with a higher quality of life. Within the specialty of preventive medicine, there are three distinct areas including occupational medicine, aerospace medicine and general public health and preventive medicine.

Physicians who practice preventive medicine are trained to address and prevent health problems that are at the heart of society. This may include providing patients with vaccinations such as flu shots, or providing the public with the educational resources to prevent and treat public health problems like drug abuse and tobacco use. When providing preventive care to patients, it is important that the patient receive regular wellness examinations and preventive screenings for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and others that affect public health and wellness.

Many diseases and illnesses that affect society are nearly entirely preventable. Physicians who practice preventive care are trained to educate patients in this regard, as many illnesses are brought about by conditions or causes that could have been prevented in the first place. This includes health factors (such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen) and avoiding negative risk factors (such as alcohol abuse).

Preventive Medicine Education & Training

The educational path to become a physician that practices preventive medicine involves the completion of a four year undergraduate degree before attending medical school. After earning an MD or DO degree, the physicians who wish to immediately enter preventive medicine must complete an ACGME accredited residency in preventive medicine. During the residency the physician is exposed to the various facets of preventive care, which includes training in both public health and clinical medicine.

Preventive medicine residencies typically focus on one of the three major areas of the specialty - occupational medicine, general preventive medicine and public health, or aerospace medicine. Generally, these residencies last three years and consist of an academic year, a clinical year and a practicum year. Alternatively, physicians who have completed a traditional clinical residency (such as pediatrics or internal medicine) may pursue a specialized fellowship in preventive medicine, usually lasting one to two years.

After completing the requisite training requirements, many physicians complete a certifying examination proctored by the American Board of Preventive Medicine to become board certified in the specialty. In order to practice medicine, these physicians must be granted a medical license from the state(s) in which they provide care.