The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM)’s training program is focussed on the ability to assess a person's fitness for work, facilitate return to work of a person after injury or illness, and identify ways in which work or environment harms health so as to negotiate effective prevention and to respond to the needs of courts and tribunals. The AFOEM training program encourages trainees to assess the effects of harmful exposures in places where they occur, to research the health effects of new and developing work activities and technologies, and to seek and seize opportunities to foster prevention.
Trainees are required to participate in training review meetings, complete six-monthly status reports, and work a minimum of ten hours per week in occupational and environmental medicine.
Part-time training is allowed providing a minimum 50% of full-time commitment is maintained and it must result in full-time equivalent time.
Trainees can become inactive at any time but must continue to submit 6-monthly reports and cannot take any assessment components during the time of inactivity. Interrupted training is allowed up to two years and the training must be completed within six years for full-time or eight years for part-time.
Prospective trainees must approach the director of training in their region about the possibility of joining the training program. Their previous qualifications are assessed and a recommendation to undertake additional study or to apply is given. Applicants must be fully medically registered in Australia or New Zealand, have completed at least three years of postgraduate general clinical experience, completed a postgraduate qualification in occupational and environmental medicine and be working a minimum of ten hours per week in the field.
Assessment covers the following topics: clinical; workplace assessment; critical appraisal, research methods; management, communication; legislation; rehabilitation; and the environment.
Assessment during training includes regular status reports, written and practical fellowship examinations, a research project and a presentation of the abstract from the research project. From 2009, a communication portfolio will also be required.
Overseas Trained Specialists
Applications from overseas trained occupational and environmental medicine physicians for specialist recognition in Australia are assessed by the AFOEM via the Australian Medical Council (AMC). Standard AMC application documentation is scrutinised by the faculty and an interview is undertaken to determine the level of comparability in training and experience to that of an Australiantrained occupational and environmental medicine physician. Applicants whose qualifications and experience are deemed to be partially or substantially comparable to that of Australian-trained occupational and environmental medicine physicians may be required to complete the faculty exit examination and/or undertake a period of peer reviewed practice. Applicants who successfully complete the assessment process will be eligible to apply for fellowship of the AFOEM.
The AFOEM does not offer accredited training positions, but approves each post on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must find employment in occupational medicine and apply to the regional censor for the post to be endorsed. Any post will not contain the variety of experience required to fulfil all the competencies, so trainees are encouraged to work in different positions throughout training. Each time the trainee moves to a new post, this must be approved as suitable by the censor. A worksite template is used so criteria are consistent.
6 The Australasian Faculty of Occupational Medicine formally became the ‘Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’ (AFOEM) in May 2007. Historically there has always been a strong element of ‘environmental’ medicine in the teaching and practice of Occupational Medicine, and this change was seen as more clearly defining the specialty.