ACOEM challenges proposed NIOSH cuts

Elk Grove Village, IL – Proposed cuts to NIOSH education and research centers would reduce the number of physicians trained in occupational medicine, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine cautioned in a Feb. 17 letter to legislators.

ERCs support occupational health training programs at academic institutions. President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget (.pdf file) calls for NIOSH to eliminate the ERC program on the grounds that ERCs have met their goal and they overlap with activities offered by the Department of Labor.

Natalie P. Hartenbaum, president of ACOEM, disputed both arguments, noting that NIOSH is the only federal agency responsible for funding training programs for occupational physicians and conducting research to prevent work-related illness and injury.

She said occupational medicine residency programs have long been underfunded, and there already is a shortage of physicians in the field.

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