Although the physician shortage continues to grow for all specialties, the shortage is especially evident among primary care physicians such as those in family medicine. While this could be a result of a number of different factors, one potential reason seems likely; the salary of family medicine physicians is substantially lower than many other physician salaries in the industry. In fact, according to a 2016 Physician Compensation Report from Medscape, Family Medicine physicians earned less than half the annual salary of their highest earning counterparts, Orthopedic Surgeons. This begs the question when earning potential is so much greater in specialties, why family medicine?
Why Family Medicine?
While it is true that specialization allows physicians to dive deeper into the intricacies of a particular system within the human body, there is something uniquely rewarding about being able to practice comprehensive care. Beyond being able to examine a patient holistically, being a family practitioner allows for a variety in your career. Whereas most specialists likely see many similar cases day in and day out, physicians in family medicine are exposed to individuals with such different medical conditions and histories and from unique backgrounds. Although you are sure to see some similarities between cases, you will never find that one day feels like the next.
Improved Quality of Life for Patients
When you provide continuous care to a patient and his or her family, you begin to gain a fuller picture of their medical history and their needs. Since family medicine allows for patients to see the same physician from the time they are a newborn until they grow old, they do not have worry about being shuffled from one primary care physician to another simply because they are aging. Additionally, continuous care allows for patients to receive the preventative care that they need and deserve. Chances are one of the primary reasons you chose to pursue a medical career was to improve the quality of life for patients. There really are few better ways to do this on a large scale than through family medicine.
Connecting with Patients
Beyond improving the quality of life of your patients, continuous care allows for you to develop truly meaningful relationships with patients and their families. In most specialties, from pediatrics to cardiology, a physician’s interaction with a patient is meant to be temporary. The role of the doctor is to keep her patient in good health until such a time that they no longer require the doctor’s services. While this can make for a rewarding career in its own way, there is something special about building and maintaining relationships throughout a lifetime of healthcare provision. Theoretically, you could treat a patient from the time they are born until they have kids of their own and even longer!
Serving a Community
One of the most understated yet exceptionally valuable aspects of family medicine is the impact that you can have on an entire community. Given that many family practitioners practice in rural settings, the community you serve will often be relatively small. Both urban and rural communities with adequate primary care providers see substantially healthier residents than their counterparts without an adequate supply of providers. There is no other specialty that allows for a physician to have such a tremendous impact on the public health of an entire community.
Why family medicine? Why not? Although the salary does not reach the same levels as those of other specialties, family medicine practitioners still earn an annual mean wage upwards of $200,000. The doctors also impact the lives of families and communities in a way that is entirely unique to the specialty. So, if you are choosing your medical specialty, consider family practice. You will be in high demand as the shortage continues to grow and you will be able to do what you love every day.
If you’re ready to begin looking for family practice jobs, look no further. We have an extensive list of travel family practice jobs around the country right here on AllPhysicianJobs.com. Take a look at all of our available family practice physician jobs now that you’re ready to answer the questions of why family medicine!