Introduction Occupational medicine is not formally recognised as a medical specialty in Chile and there are no clinical training programs in Chilean universities. Despite this situation, health authorities have developed occupational health protocols that give occupational physicians relevant roles and the Congress asked to strengthen occupational medicine to implement the National Safety and Health Policy. In absence of formal certification of specialists, the Chilean Society of Occupational Medicine has certified occupational physicians since 2014. This study aims to describe Chilean occupational physicians who are members of this association.
Methods 75 applications were received (2014–2016). 54 physicians (72%) fulfilled the criteria to be certified as occupational physicians (59.3% male) and the rest remained as collaborating members. An electronic survey was sent during January 2017 to collect information from members (85% response rate).
Results 78% of 46 physicians that answered the survey were 40 years or older and 74% had worked at least 10 years in occupational medicine. 87% got their medical degree in Chile and the rest in other Latin-American countries. 35% (n=16) have a medical specialty (public health (n=5), occupational medicine (n=3), rehabilitation medicine (n=2)). Occupational medicine specialists were trained abroad. One physician (2%) has a doctoral degree; 32 (70%) a master degree; 37 (80%) a diploma certificate; 23 (50%) completed other training programs. 72% completed 2 or more postgraduate programs; most referred were public health (29%) and health management (20%). 59% declared more than one job, most usual were: management of occupational insurance (54%), private companies (30%), public institutions (28%) and independent activity (24%). 74% work in Santiago and 20% in extreme north/south. 4% work in shifts. 50% also work in other than occupational medicine; 2/3 have a management position; 39% teach; 15% do scientific research. 78% are ‘highly satisfied/satisfied’ with their current positions.
Discussion Occupational physicians in Chile are highly trained professionals with diverse academic background. Job positions are limited as the specialty does not formally exist. Standardisation of academic training is mandatory prior to recognition of the specialty and creation of specialty programs.
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