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Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Student Profiles

 

Elizabeth AlmElizabeth Alm, MD

What training did you complete before starting your Occupational and Environmental Medicine program?

Prior to the OEM program I completed 2 years of a General Surgery Residency. I had also started my MPH through the University of Minnesota Executive Masters of Public Policy. I went to the University of Minnesota Medical School and also completed my undergraduate degree in Minority Healthcare at the University of Minnesota. Prior to medical school I had worked many different jobs including in real estate, sales and in public health.

What interested you in Occupational and Environmental Medicine?

I was intrigued about the opportunity to work in difference facets of medicine and business. Most OEM specialists divide their time between various spectrums including: clinical medicine, corporate medicine, public health, medical directorships, global health and local and governmental agencies. Furthermore, I was certain I wanted to be a part of a program that not only monetarily, but fundamentally supported my MPH.

Why did you choose Health Partners Occupational and Environmental Medicine program?

The HealthPartners OEM program is one the oldest and strongest running programs in the United States. Additionally, the Occupational Medicine Residency Program is based at HealthPartners St. Paul Clinic, through Regions Hospital and is part of the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety, in partnership with the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, at the University of Minnesota. Being a part of the HealthPartners system presented a distinct opportunity to work within these premiere institutes and agencies like the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the main leaders in industry that are centralized in Minnesota.

What will you do when you finish the program?  

I am unsure of where this career path will lead me but I have an interest in corporate medicine, environmental exposures, global health, health disparities, preventative medicine strategies and public health administration. Regardless of the area of my focus I intend to divide my time in clinical medicine, research and in administrative work.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

To medical students considering any residency, I would say take many opportunities to maximize your exposure to your potential field as early as possible. And remember it's never too late to change your mind.

 

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Mark CiagneMark Ciagne, MD

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine program?

Prior to occupational medicine I was a residency trained general surgeon. I did my surgical residency at HCMC in Minneapolis and was in practice for almost 2 years with Allina at Mercy Hospital.

What made you interested in the field?

Throughout my surgical training and during my time in practice I never felt that I was truly improving anybody's health. It always felt like I was plugging the hole in the dike waiting for the next hole to spring open. With OEM I truly get to prevent disease and improve people's health.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The HealthPartners/University of Minnesota OEM program has a very strong clinical component and is associated with a great university as well as top notch corporations (3M and General Mills).

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

After finishing the program, I eventually want to be involved in corporate health and wellness.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

For a student who might be considering the program, I would recommend that they think outside the box. OEM is a field to which very few if any students know much about, much less have exposure. I think that is a shame. Do a rotation, spend some time in the department, talk to people. Don't discount a program or specialty because it's not common.

 

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Demian GitnachtDemian Gitnacht, MD

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine program?

I have lived in Minnesota for nearly five years, initially moving to the area to embark on a residency in Family Practice at St. Joseph's Hospital which I completed in June of 2013.

What made you interested in the field?

During my time here, I became familiar with Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) and after performing extensive research on this and completing several elective rotations with HealthPartners (HP) OEM, I decided to do a fellowship in this field.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

While researching the different OEM programs available, I learned that HP OEM was one of the largest programs with extensive clinical experience associated with a wide variety of factories, employers and industries. For this reason and for my positive elective experiences with OEM attendings, I decided to apply to the HP OEM program.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I would recommend OEM to anyone who possesses the critical mind to solve possible causation puzzles. Additionally, for individuals looking for variety, I think OEM is a great option as it offers a host of possibilities including a wellness program, preventative medicine practices and treatment of acute medical conditions, just to name a few.

 

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Zeke McKinneyZeke McKinney, MD, MHI

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine program?

My context for public health outside of my professional career primarily stemmed from my experience growing up in the medically-underserved area of North Minneapolis. My education consists of a Computer Science degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies at the University of North Dakota, and a dual-degree MD and Master of Health Informatics from the University of Minnesota. I thereafter completed a General Surgery intern year at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), followed by a full-time year working as a clinical informaticist at HCMC. During my surgical intern year, I had the opportunity to see many occupational injuries in the context of surgical clinical care. In combination with my myriad work experience in IT and healthcare, these educational opportunities have provided invaluable applied context for informatics work.

What made you interested in the field?

A primary interest in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) for me arose from the similarities between the system-level improvements that can be made in healthcare workflows using clinical informatics and those that can be made for employees generally by OEM physicians. Moreover, the preventative medicine, public health, and causation analysis that are required in OEM can be augmented very well by my clinical informatics work. Most importantly, because of the degree to which a person's health is very much affected by their occupation and their environmental exposures, the importance of OEM physicians is becoming more appreciated over time. My particular interests with respect to OEM are in: respiratory toxicologic exposures in the workplace and in the community, public health informatics, public health journalism, healthcare disparities, sports medicine, epigenetics, ergonomics, and chronic pain management.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

For me, choosing the University of Minnesota/HealthPartners OEM Residency Program was not only due to its location (because of my family), but also because of the long history and broad clinical and academic experiences provided as part of training.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

My career plan is to split my time working as an Occupational Medicine physician, as a clinical informaticist, and as a researcher in occupational and environmental exposures.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

I would recommend this field to anyone interested in working on the assessment of the root causes of disease and injury as well as methods of prevention.

 

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