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Career Development --- Preventive Medicine

What Does Training Look Like?

Preventive medicine is an approved specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties. It is a three-year program consisting of an intern year followed by two years in preventive medicine. The intern year can be done in any ACGME approved specialty or transitional year though primary care is preferred. The following two years focus on preventive medicine training. During those years you concurrently obtain your MPH and work in rotations focused on public health, population management, lifestyle medicine, preventive health, quality improvement, occupational and environmental health, and program management. Preventive medicine is a very broad field, and every program tends to be very unique. So, finding a program that focuses on an area of preventive medicine that interests you is essential. Some choose to make Preventive Medicine their primary specialty. Others treat preventive medicine as a mid-career or fellowship model. There are several internal medicine preventive medicine or family medicine preventive medicine combined programs throughout the country that allow you to complete both specialties in 4 years.


The official American Board of Preventive Medicine subspecialties are aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, addiction medicine, medical toxicology, clinical informatics, and undersea and hyperbaric medicine.

What Does a Typical Workday Look Like?

Preventive medicine is a very broad field and depends on what you do. Graduates can go into the armed forces as a preventive medicine specialist, work in policy, become medical directors, or work in international health. Some graduates work in pharmacy and medical devices research development and safety either for a private company or the federal government. Preventive medicine specialists work in the local, state, and federal offices of public health. The CDC has myriad opportunities for preventive medicine specialists. Many physicians choose a strictly research-oriented career that focuses on public health and population medicine. Those that choose to go into clinic medicine tend to work in addiction medicine, obesity medicine, occupational medicine or other similar focuses in the outpatient setting. For the most part, preventive medicine is a 9-5 job. However, preventive medicine is a broad field, and you can make it what you choose.

Important Qualities and Traits

Preventive medicine physicians needs to be self-motivated and willing to create their own paths. There is no one way to be a preventive medicine physician. Every resident has her or his own career path upon graduation, and you need to have the focus and ability to blaze your own trail.
Shadowing Opportunities

Students can contact Adam Peltz, Dr. Mark Dalcorso, or Dr. Clarissa Hoff for shadowing opportunities.
Research Opportunities

Contact Dr. Clarissa Hoff for information about current opportunities to get involved with research. If you are in the MD/MPH program, then Dr. Mark Dalcorso is an excellent resource.

Additionally, students may want to pursue research opportunities through the DeBakey Scholars Program. This program offers medical students the opportunity to pursue and complete a longitudinal, structured, closely supervised research experience culminating in a capstone presentation prior to graduation. For more information, contact Dr. Kenneth Mitchell.

Who are the Specialty Academic/Career Advisors for this Specialty?

Dr. Clarissa Hoff Students may also seek out other faculty, if they choose. Additionally, you may contact Adam Peltz, Senior Program Coordinator, for more information.

Recommended T3 & T4 Coursework

There is a Community Health Elective that can be taken as a 2 or 4 week elective. Please contact Adam Peltz for further details.

Special Considerations When Applying for Residency

Preventive medicine does not go through the general match. Preventive has its own “match” called the Standardized Acceptance Program (SAP) run through the American College of Preventive Medicine. Most applicants apply to the SAP during their intern year of residency for a PGY-2 position at a program. Some programs will accept you before you have been accepted into an intern year; however this varies by program.

Important Advice

Showing a strong interest in public health and preventive medicine is essential. Research, volunteer and academic courses focused on public health will greatly increase your chances of matching. Applicants that have completed or already started working on their MPH or equivalent degree have a leg up in the SAP.