Western Occupational & Environmental Medical Association
Leading Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Welcome to the WOEMA WINDOW, our e-newsletter sent to members by email on a monthly basis. The newsletter links to this page. Below are the items that appeared in the January 2018 issue.


A Message from WOEMA’s President

by Sachin Kapoor, DO




Dear Colleagues,

A new year is upon us, and as such it is a natural time for reflection on the year past and planning for the year ahead. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Bob Blink who guided us through 2017 with a steadfast focus on WOEMA’s priorities. Under his leadership and the hard work of our committee chairs and WOEMA staff, 2017 was a very successful year for our organization.

I am stepping into the role of President with a strong sense of purpose and responsibility. In looking at the prior leadership of WOEMA, one cannot help but feel a great sense of humility and honor to follow in the footsteps of such influential leaders in our specialty. As we begin this year together, I would like to share with you a bit about myself, as I strongly feel that getting to “know” one another is what helps us understand the motivations behind each other’s actions, builds a sense of community, and in the end helps us collectively move ideas from the white board into action and leave a lasting impression on the environment in which we live and practice.

Prior to pursuing my training in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, I trained in Internal Medicine. During this training I was struck by a very simple fact – we rarely cure patients of disease. Now in hindsight this does not seem like a significant epiphany, however coming out of medical school and starting to feel the tremendous responsibility of overseeing the care of patients, it was nonetheless a very impactful insight for me. This naturally led me to two distinct conclusions: first, we must invest significantly in preventing disease; and second, to make an impact with our patients, we must gain a larger understanding of the effects of a medical illness/injury on their lives and their livelihood. For me, Occupational and Environmental Medicine clearly stood out in its focus on both these issues, prevention and a focus on functional outcomes. Since that time it has been my passion to influence both ends of this spectrum and to fold our specialty into the larger medical community. This is what drives my decisions and sits behind my passion for our line of work.

I would like for you to join me in our shared pursuit of promoting and protecting the health of people at work and in their environment. I encourage you all to look at our committee leadership to get a sense of the diverse group of physician leaders that are working to move forward WOEMA’s 3 pillars of leadership, service, and education. This year we will continue our focus of bringing you relevant education through our CME sponsored webinars, represent your interests with State legislatures, provide you regular updates through this newsletter, expand our social media presence, and we will launch an educational program to teach workers compensation essentials to providers practicing industrial medicine. It will be a very exciting year!

I have shared with you my story, and through my interactions in WOEMA I know that it is one of hundreds of stories on how physicians get pulled into our specialty. WOEMA allows us to come together, join our passions and make real tangible changes in the communities that we serve. I am looking forward to hearing your personal story and to learn what guides your decisions and inspires your actions. Please share them with me at woemapres@woema.org.

FREE CME WOEMA Webinar Series:
Thursday, February 22 • 12:00 PM PST

Phenotyping Asthma: Environmental and Occupational Asthma



Environmental and occupational triggers are major concerns in the persistence of adult severe asthma, particularly for those patients with “T2 low” asthma. With the recent approval of multiple novel biologic therapies for severe asthma, it is important that physicians understand how to appropriately phenotype such patients, and consider who may be a candidate.  In this presentation, we will review the present thoughts on phenotyping patients with asthma, and how this impacts the evaluation and management of patients with occupational and environmental triggers.

Learning Objectives –  After this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the epidemiology and trends for asthma and occupational asthma
  • Describe how phenotyping of asthma allows for prescribing novel biologics for asthma
  • Outline the evaluation and phenotyping for occupational asthma

Dr. Nicholas Kenyon is division chief in Pulmonary/Critical Care and a physician-scientist with a translational research focus in adult severe asthma. Areas of emphasis are asthma therapeutics, the role of nitric oxide in airway inflammation, and environmental triggers of asthma. He completed an NHLBI-funded Phase II clinical trial of L-arginine supplementation in severe asthma based on 10 years of hypothesis-driven mouse model work. Dr. Kenyon is Co-PI on a U01 PRISMS grant to develop wearable environmental sensors for children with asthma. In addition, he has collaborated with environmental health UC Davis investigators to run intervention trials in asthma, test novel therapeutics in animal models, develop novel breath sensor technologies and identify the environmental triggers for patients with asthma. He is PI & Director of the CTSC TLI Pre-Doctoral Training Program, and Co-Lead of the Career Development Program for the UC Davis NIEHS-funded Environmental Health Center.


Forget to Renew Your Membership?



There is still time! Renew your WOEMA/ACOEM membership by January 31 to continue to receive benefits such as: FREE CME webinars, discounted Western Occupational Health Conference (WOHC) registration, and more!



The Decline of a Profession

an editorial by Troy Ross, MD, MPH


I prepared for a new year in the practice of medicine by developing a controlled substance prescription policy for my company. With the escalating rates of abuse, addiction, and death surrounding the use of these pharmaceuticals it’s not unreasonable to do this to ensure my practice is not part of the problem.

It’s unfortunate, though, that developing this new policy doesn’t come out of my commitment to my profession. I did research and wrote policy and developed forms to be filled out and will spend time and resources (in the few cases where I do prescribe a narcotic) in response to a new law in the state of Nevada.

AB 474 compels me to perform a series of complicated tasks and documentation any time I prescribe a controlled substance. I understand why that law was put into place: my state has one of the highest rates of opioid complications. The new hoops will slow down the rate of prescribing, but I predict this will not be part of the solution.

Back to the unfortunate part – I am a medical professional. A profession is not a job, and those who choose the calling are expected to hold themselves and others in their group to high standards. We have an obligation to regulate ourselves, to elevate our profession, and truly serve those we care for.

In regard to our society’s opioid crisis, the profession of medicine has utterly failed. Our failure has forced the legislators to step in to try and solve a problem that was not of their making. The congressman doesn’t pick up a pen to write a script for Percocet – the doctor does. That has gotten out of control, and we did not regulate ourselves. Instead we allowed the legislators to put their hands over ours as we pick up our pens. Who do we want to guide our hands as we use our pens or scalpels or apply a healing touch? Unless we step up to own the responsibilities of being professionals we will lose the satisfaction that goes along with it. How long do we have before our profession becomes another job?


Topical News



Navy Seeks Better Sleep for Crews with New Rest Guidelines and Special Glasses

Sleep matters in the performance of our war fighters. What about the rest of us?


Workplace Drug and Alcohol Deaths Soar

The number of deaths at work from overdose increased by 30% in 2016


Predictions for Work Comp in 2018

2018 will provide opportunity and change in the workers’ compensation world


Reserve your Room for WOHC 2018



The early bird gets the worm! Book your accommodations at the WOHC 2018 host hotel, The Park Central San Francisco, today! WOEMA is pleased to offer a special rate of $269++/night to our WOHC attendees. This price won’t last long – book before the August 13, 2018 cut-off date.