Why I chose... Occupational medicine
Dr Jayne Moore talks about making the leap in to occupational medicine.
Name Dr Jayne Moore
Title Consultant cccupational physician
My journey in to occupational medicine really began when I came across an advertisement for a ‘store doctor’ at a local branch of a retail chain. The practice I was working for encouraged clinical assistantships, so I took the plunge and accepted an assistantship in the world of occupational medicine.
I enjoyed working in the speciality immensely, and for a number of years I shared my time between general practice and my occupational post. I even took an introductory course in occupational medicine at Manchester University.
But with the constant bombardment of contract changes in general practice, I started to question whether this was really the place I wanted to be. I eventually found the courage to join the Manchester University MSc to prepare for the Associate Faculty of Occupational Medicine exam (AFOM). But I hadn’t sat a formal exam for years. I didn’t know if I could study the way I used to, the ‘memory cogs’ might have become jammed. So I convinced myself that I would continue my position as GP principal, just in case I didn’t pass the AFOM.
Fortunately, the other students on the course were really helpful and happy to share their knowledge with me, and after passing the AFOM I made the career switch. I joined the Independent sector of OM as a Specialist Registrar, where I have now been for nine years; four as a trainee and five as a consultant. The company seems to have every industry covered, from manufacturing to chemical industries, food processing, government departments and the NHS. Every day we work in different places doing different tasks. Its constantly changing, so there’s no fear of stagnation in this profession.
The advantages are the variety, autonomy and the opportunity to influence, even if in a small way, the health of people at work.
Do I enjoy my work? Do I feel I make a difference? My answer would be yes to all. I do not regret moving to occupational medicine. I do occasionally miss the ongoing relationship I had with patients as a GP. But this was a good move, and one that I wouldn’t wish to change.
Moving from a position of advocacy to one of impartiality was quite a tricky transition. I had to learn how to balance the general duty of care to the employer and the ethical duties to the worker. As an occupational physician, I also have to make sure that company policies promote the health and wellbeing of workers and the public. There is the potential for disagreement between the worker, manager or the union. I also have to do a lot of travel, which some might see as a downside.