Is a Career in Family Medicine Still worth the Investment?
Whether finishing their CE renewal or completing their last year of residency, the unique challenges that face hopeful doctors as they pursue their careers can make the future seem daunting. Some setbacks that young developing healthcare professionals face while pursuing their medical careers include hefty student loans, several years of schooling, and long hours on the job. These difficulties can leave anyone unsure about their future in family medicine. For individuals who are pursuing a career in family medicine, here are the pros and cons this path can have and what the future holds for this specific practice.
Variety of Patients
As a professional in family medicine, you will be able to work with a variety of individuals at a variety of stages in their lifespan. You will be able to focus on all aspects of an individual’s life and how those aspects influence their well-being as you work to develop a diagnosis. By working with a diverse group of patients and solving an assortment of problems, your days as a family doctor will never feel the same. It is expected in the years to come that a large portion of individuals seeking medical attention will be elderly individuals, due to the rising life expectancy of baby boomers and the specific medical issues they may face at their age.
Spectrum of Knowledge
As a family practitioner, you will be expected to diagnose, treat, and help prevent a variety of diseases and injuries that commonly occur in the general population. You will be comfortable talking to your patients about various problems they present throughout their lifetime. A career in family medicine will require you to stay on your toes and never settle for routine. In some instances you may need to refer your patients to specialists.
Family doctors tend to make around $221,419 a year. While these earnings tend to vary with a physician’s number of years in practice, the geographic region of their practice, the amount of hours worked each week, and other contributing factors, this yearly salary for family practitioners is on the low end for doctors. Individuals who specialize in a specific form of medicine will make a higher salary than doctors with a general knowledge of ailments that face families. While many individuals pursue family medicine for reasons other than making money, this lower income may present problems when doctors work to pay off student loans.
In this community-based medicine practice, family doctors can cultivate meaningful relationships with their patients by working with them and their families throughout their lifetime. Family medicine is one of the more social practices of medicine and requires good bedside manners. As you develop connections with your patients, your work can feel more meaningful and satisfying while handling issues on a personal level and helping to alleviate the worries and problems your patients develop.
Expected Job Growth
The demand for family practitioners is expected to grow 10% by 2024. While family doctors will continue to be needed, the advances in technology can stifle this growth. With new technology allowing doctors to treat more patients in less amounts of time, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are expected to higher fewer family practitioners. In addition to technology limiting job opportunities, many physicians assistants and nurse practitioners are equipped with the skills necessary to carry out the routine duties of physicians, making them more valuable, cost-effective employees.
Employment in Rural and Low-Income Areas
Family doctors can expect to find work available in rural and low-income areas. These locations tend to display a lack in family physicians more than others. States who reported a higher employment of family and general practitioners include California, Florida, Missouri, Texas and Illinois.
Anticipated Law Changes
With the new presidential administration beginning to implement new laws and regulations, it’s anticipated that the Affordable Care Act is up for either repeal or renewal. While changing and reforming the ACA won’t happen overnight, the healthcare industry can expect to see uncertainty in the near future. In the past, some physicians had experienced a significant amount of strain on their practices from the statutes of ACA. Any future regulation shifts could possibly have a similar effect.