F. M. Ryan1, D. Border2, M. Bhattacharyya3

1Department of Health and Social Care

2UK Health Security Agency; Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

3UK Health Security Agency; BHSF Ltd, London, UK



The COVID-19 pandemic raised the profile and secured the relationship between occupational medicine (OM) and public health (PH)[1]. Throughout, testing for COVID-19 was essential in minimising public health risk[2]. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) offered OM trainees (StRs) 6-month secondments providing and securing expert scientific, occupational, PH and clinical advice to the national COVID-19 testing programme.


  • Describe PH placement
  • Quantify experience and skills achieved during placement


Descriptive analysis of placement activities and self-assessment of skills using a modified ‘Public Health Education for Physicians’ (PHEP) tool[3].  Likert scale questions ranging from 1 (not at all competent) to 5 (extremely competent) compares the beginning of OM training with current proficiency.


3 OM StRs (one commercial, two NHS; ST3-ST5 grades), with no prior PH experience, undertook PH placement (researcher-participants). All were allocated a PH supervisor who identified appropriate projects, and retained existing Educational Supervisors from training. All StRs participated in daily Public Health and Clinical Oversight meetings, and weekly Occupational Medicine Nominated Experts meetings.

11 StRs completed a 16-item questionnaire (modified-PHEP). Some StRs were currently or previously on PH placement (n=3), some had not participated in placement (n=8).

Median Likert scale score reported by StRs on placement increased (before training = 2, currently = 4), consistent with previous trends from PHEP.  There was no change in score for StRs not participating in placements (M = 2).




PH placements during OM training may contribute to improved understanding of the nuanced relationship between PH and OM.


  1. de Bono A. What a year (and more) we’ve had! National School of Occupational Health Conference. Online, November 2021.
  2. UK Health Security Agency. Testing in the UK | Coronavirus in the UK. https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/testing: UKHSA, 2022. [Accessed February 28, 2022]
  3. Alkon E, Kim-Farley R, Gunzenhauser J. Physician Training Rotations in a Large Urban Health Department Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2014;20:E12-E17.
  4. Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Specialist Training Curriculum for Occupational Medicine. http://www.fom.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/FOM-curriculum-2018-with-admin-changes-FINAL-APPROVED.pdf: FOM, 2018. [Accessed February 28, 2022]


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