Duties and responsibilities
A family physician is a physician who possess the unique skills and knowledge to provide continuing and comprehensive medical care and health maintenance to each member of the family regardless of their sex, age or problem. Family physicians may work as part of a medical group or in their own independent practices. Their typical responsibilities and duties include:
- Developing personal relationships with the patients
- Creating patient-specific health programs
- Monitoring and adapting individualized health programs over time
- Scheduling follow-up examinations
- Administering vaccinations (e.g., flu jab, infant vaccinations, travel vaccinations)
- Recommending specialists for treatment outside of their capacity
- Educating patients in health management and disease prevention.
- Offering family planning and birthing services
Like all physicians, family physicians must complete a bachelor’s degree program before being admitted to medical school. Medical schools are extremely selective, and prospective students must have excellent collegiate grades, get good scores on the Medical College Admission Test, and possess letters of recommendation from professors or other professionals. Once medical school is completed, family physicians must complete a residency period in a family orientated practice. After residency, all physicians must pass the national licensing exam. Family physicians must pass the American Board of Specialties examination to acquire board certification in Family Medicine.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as completing all the relevant medical training, family physicians will need skills such as:
- Written and verbal communication skills, as family physicians will need to communicate with patients, coworkers and with specialists throughout the whole treatment process. They will also need to maintain files that document patient treatments and referrals
- Compassion, as family physicians will be approached by patients with a huge array of problems and issues. They must show the utmost understanding and compassion
- Leadership skills, as family physicians may have to lead a team of other healthcare professionals (such as nurses)
- Problem solving skills, as family physicians will need to find the solutions to a wide range of patient problems
- Attention to detail, as family physicians need to spot issues with patients during checkups and when providing care
- Organizational skills, as family physicians will have to work with multiple patients and instruct multiple team members. Therefore, they will need to coordinate numerous treatment plans and instructions
Most family physicians will work full time and they may have to work long and irregular hours. Family physicians may be on call, which means they may find themselves working nights, weekends or holidays!
According to glassdoor, the average annual salary for a family physician in the United States was $190,651 as of 2020. At the lower end, family physicians can expect to earn around $157,000 per year and at the highest end, family physicians can expect to earn around $237,000 per year.
Due to the growing and aging population, there will always be a demand for family physicians to treat patients of all ages and sex. Although family physicians have a general knowledge of human illness, they are technically already specialized physicians, so they cannot progress in that sense. However, they can progres to owning their own practice or supervising a practice.