The West Virginia University Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health recently received a $1.8 million grant to continue its medical residency program for the next five years. The grant is awarded through the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

WVU has the highest level of support for an occupational medicine training project grant in the country. According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, occupational medicine is the specialty devoted to the prevention and management of occupational injury, illness and disability and the promotion of the health and productivity of workers, their families and communities. At WVU, the program requires physicians to complete two years of advanced training beyond their M.D. degree.

Chris Martin, M.D., associate professor and IOEH residency director, said WVU has received the grant since the 1980s through a competitive process. “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this grant,” he said. “Our training program is the centerpiece upon which all other activities are built.”

The WVU program, part of the Department of Community Medicine, is one of 22 civilian occupational medicine residency programs in the United States. It is the only program in the Appalachian region. “Occupational medicine is very important in West Virginia given the high burden of occupational illness and injury throughout the state,” Dr. Martin said.

The goal of the residency program is to train physicians who will stay in the state. Dr. Martin said the most important factor in a physician’s decision on where to practice is where he/she completes residency training.

“We have a good track record of placing our graduates in the region,” Dr. Martin said.

Residents take academic coursework during the first year to satisfy the requirements for the completion of a master’s degree in public health. During the second year, they engage in required and elective clinical, industrial and research experiences.

For more information on the occupational residency program, see


CONTACT: Angela Jones, HSC News Service