What does a toxicologist do
The field of medical toxicology is an exciting opportunity for physicians who want to see exotic cases or work in the legal field. This specialty studies how to treat damage caused by humans by toxic chemicals. Patients might have swallowed too may pills, been bitten by a snake, or been subject to industrial poisoning over several years.
Doctors in this specialty must be able to think quickly and work under stress. Toxicologists can specialize in drug overdoses, environmental damage, deliberate poisoning, and more.
Medical toxicologists must graduate from med school and become licensed physicians. All doctors study the same curriculum in med school. After graduating, physicians attend residencies, 3-7 years of specialized training. When residency is complete, doctors take board exams to demonstrate what they learned during residency.
Physicians can choose to complete more specialized training, called a fellowship, after residency. For example, an internal medicine resident could do a fellowship in cardiology, pulmonology, or any other specialty that focuses on internal organs. To become a medical toxicologist, doctors do a residency in emergency medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, or occupational medicine followed by a two-year fellowship in medical toxicology.
place of work
Finding employment as a full-time toxicologist can be difficult because of the extreme specialization of the field. Often, these doctors will work in an emergency room where they will be available for toxicology consults.
While waiting for their expertise to be needed, a toxicologist sees regular patients who need emergency treatment. Specialists can also work at poison control centers, for a pharmaceutical company, or in research. Some physicians volunteer as consultants for wilderness rescue squads.
what they do
Some toxicologists work to fight crime. A pathologist, also known as a medical examiner, may be a board certified toxicologist. Most coroners at least have training in basic toxicology to handle drug-related cases.
A term commonly heard on crime dramas, a tox screen, is used by toxicologists to look for abnormal drugs or poisons in a person’s system. Toxicologists may help investigate criminal poisonings or testify in drug cases. Toxicology research is an important part of the legal system.
Some toxicologists will work with government agencies to determine health and safety standards for different areas. For example, some toxicologists will work with the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the impact of environmental toxins on a population.
This can include testing a population for trace levels of heavy metals, dioxins, artificial chemicals, and other substances.This information will be correlated with lifespans, birth rates, overall health levels, and other information. It’s possible to determine how pollution can have a negative impact on a large section of the population.