While preventive medicine is touched on by many medical professionals, it is actually a medical specialty on its own. Preventive medicine focuses on maintaining the health and wellness of individuals in specified communities. This specialty is sometimes called general preventive medicine and public health.

Specialists in this area of medicine spend significant time studying patients and their habitats. Such information can provide insight as specialists plan and management best practices to achieve optimal wellness and decrease the chances of disease or injury.

Subspecialties in this area are community-specific and include addiction medicine, clinical informatics, medical toxicology, and undersea and hyperbaric medicine. These subspecialties may be considered clinical as specialists work with patients directly. Non-clinical specialists focus on researching and planning policies.


Preventive Medicine Residency

To become a specialist in this area of medicine, individuals must complete an undergraduate degree, graduate from medical school, and spend 3 years in a medical residency program. This medical specialty is less sought out than others, as such, has very few residency positions.

In 2019, there were just 357 preventive medicine residents. 55, or just over 15% of medical residents in this specialty identify as international medical graduates. Medical residents will spend significant time studying epidemiology, with patient interaction skills being less of a focus.


Practicing as a Physician

For those who want structure in their lives, the specialty of preventive medicine could be a good fit. If on the non-clinical side of things, most physicians with this specialization work desk jobs with weekday hours.

The trade-off is that preventive medicine specialists are the lowest paid physicians. The average annual income for physicians with this specialization is around $200,000. This is considerably lower than the average income for physicians in the U.S., which is about $313,000.

Despite a lower income, preventive medicine is a specialty that can open many doors. Many specialists teach at universities, participate in research, and assist in policy planning. This can be a great area of medicine for those whose interests also include education or public policy.


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