LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2012 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 45-46
Occupational health practice: Training and accreditation
John D Schneider, Tar-Ching Aw
Department of Community Medicine, UAE University, P O Box 17666, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
|Date of Web Publication||13-Aug-2012|
John D Schneider
Department of Community Medicine, UAE University, P O Box 17666, Al Ain
United Arab Emirates
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Schneider JD, Aw TC. Occupational health practice: Training and accreditation. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2012;16:45-6
Your editorial on the training and accreditation of occupational medical practitioners  makes several valid points and comes at a time when internationally accepted assessment and qualifications for occupational medicine are becoming more readily accessible for doctors in Asia.
Post graduate qualifications in occupational medicine generally fall into three categories those awarded by:
- Health authorities in a country which usually prescribe a level of required knowledge and practice, and is only applicable and acceptable for their jurisdictional area,
- Educational institutions which may vary in regards to the duration and content of training, and assessment and examination process,
- Peers which are usually accepted within a country, often by multinational organizations and are increasingly being recognized internationally.
There are advantages in having international peer assessed and conferred qualifications as these are often developed by practicing occupational physicians who have an interest in maintaining standards and thereby the credibility and reputation of the profession. Unfortunately many training institutions are now greatly influenced by the commercial realities of cost recovery and income generation, and this may result in perceived decreasing quality of graduates emerging from 'degree factories'. For these reasons, peer assessed and awarded recognition of satisfactory standards of knowledge and experience is arguably the most acceptable evidence for potential employers. For multinational companies seeking flexibility in their workforce, the recruitment of physicians (and other professionals in the field of occupational health) with internationally recognized qualifications have distinct advantages.
For developing countries, one approach would be the establishment of a national Faculty or College of Occupational Medicine (as in the UK, Ireland and Australia) to recommend appropriate training and experience, and to award qualifications after assessment. However the formation of a faculty takes time, effort, and resources. Strong support and commitment is needed from the few current specialists in the field, especially in the early stages.
An interim solution is to accept and adopt the training and competency requirements from an internationally recognized faculty of occupational medicine. Unfortunately the Occupational Medicine professional bodies in many developed countries have restrictive entry criteria for admission to their training programs e.g. the requirement for medical registration in their country and or participation in formal training program in those countries. This is disadvantageous to doctors from Asia, the Middle East and other regions where there are several administrative and socio-cultural hurdles for obtaining residence permits and training slots overseas.
An encouraging recent development by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is a change in their eligibility criteria for obtaining Licentiateship and Membership. The new criteria make it easier for overseas doctors to be designated Licentiates of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (LFOM) or Members of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (MFOM). Training in Ireland or other centers in Europe is not required. Doctors should have at least two years of general professional medical training after being licensed to practice in their home country. Subsequent occupational health experience in a range of industries, and participating in an approved training course is strongly recommended but is not mandatory. The Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has also helped overseas candidates for their exams by designating two overseas exam centers - one in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the other in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates. The exams are held simultaneously in Kuala Lumpur, Al-Ain and Dublin. There is no necessity to travel to Dublin for the exams. Intending candidates for LFOM or MFOM can choose the exam centers closest to them. This will enable them to minimise personal and social upheaval, avoid discomfort from long-haul air travel, and reduce accommodation and other associated costs. For doctors in India, they might well prefer to travel to Malaysia or the U.A.E. for the exam which is usually held yearly, in May.
Further information regarding the syllabus, regulations, examination details, and eligibility requirements for entry to the Irish Faculty of Occupational Medicine can be obtained from their website.
Interested candidates can also consult other members or fellows of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, RCP (Ireland) resident in their home country or those at the exam centers in Malaysia and the UAE.
| References|| |
|1.||Priolcar X. Occupational health practice: "Need of the hour - training and accreditation". Indian J Occup Environ Med 2011;15:51. |