Environmental Medicine Physician

Evaluate locations for hazards and pollutants that cause health problems.

What does an Environmental Medicine Physician do?

An Environmental Medicine Physician is interested in how the environment impacts health. While most Doctors are trained to look for and treat disease, an Environmental Medicine Physician is trained to look for the root causes of disease, and to remove those triggers whenever possible.

As an Environmental Medicine Physician, you may work for a manufacturing company. In this position, you scope the production space for hazards, such as chemical leaks, airborne pollutants, or other unsafe work conditions. You also treat employees who have health problems as a result of the pollutants they’ve encountered.

Some companies hire people who can work in both environmental medicine and occupational medicine, meaning you can deal with the chemical as well as the mechanical side of a problem. For example, you may remove a dangerous chemical from a person’s workspace, and fit him or her with an ergonomic chair to prevent back problems.

You may also work for the state or federal government. In this research-based position, you perform tests to determine appropriate chemical exposure levels, and provide recommendations on how to reduce the amount of pollutants people are exposed to. You may spend a significant amount of time in polluted places yourself, collecting samples you’ll need for your research.

Some Environmental Medicine Physicians choose to work in private practice, helping very sick people determine just what made them sick, and what they’ll need to do to get better. This may involve home visits, work site visits, and a plethora of lab tests. You may run these tests yourself, or farm them out to a trusted laboratory.