Family Physician Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Family Physician Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $211,300 Hourly Rate: $101.59

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Family Physicians in 2023

Best College Majors for Family Physicians in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Family Physician:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Family Physician Career Path Overview

The career path of a family physician is an enriching journey that requires significant dedication, compassion, and a deep understanding of the broad spectrum of healthcare. This dynamic profession is not only rewarding but also offers a wide range of opportunities to make a difference in patients' lives. To become a family physician, you must start with a strong educational foundation. This typically involves obtaining a Bachelor's degree in a pre-medical or science-related field, followed by four years of medical school to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Once you have completed medical school, the next step on the family physician career path is to undertake a residency program in family medicine. This is typically a three-year program that provides in-depth training in various aspects of family medicine and includes rotations in different medical specialties. Upon completion of your residency, you are eligible to become board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) or the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians (AOBFP). Board certification is an important step as it demonstrates your competence and commitment to the field of family medicine. With board certification, you can choose to practice as a general family physician or further specialize in areas such as geriatrics, sports medicine, or obstetrics. These specializations typically require additional fellowship training and certification. The career path of a family physician also includes opportunities for advancement into leadership roles such as medical director or department chair. Additionally, many family physicians choose to engage in research or teaching roles at medical schools and teaching hospitals. As a family physician, your career will be marked by lifelong learning and professional development. Continuing Medical Education (CME) is essential for maintaining your board certification and staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in family medicine. In conclusion, the career path of a family physician is a fulfilling one that offers numerous opportunities to impact patients' lives positively. Whether you choose to specialize or remain a general practitioner, your role as a family physician will be integral in providing comprehensive healthcare to individuals and families across their lifespan.

Family Physician Career Path Education and Training

Embarking on a career as a family physician requires a significant investment in education and training. This comprehensive journey prepares you for the broad range of health issues you'll encounter in practice, enabling you to offer the highest standard of care to patients of all ages.

Undergraduate Education

The first step on the path to becoming a family physician is earning a bachelor's degree. While there is no specific major required for pre-medical students, many choose to study biology, chemistry, or another science to help prepare for medical school. It's also crucial during this time to maintain a high GPA and gain some clinical experience, often through volunteering or internships.

Medical School

After obtaining a bachelor's degree, aspiring family physicians must attend medical school, which typically takes four years to complete. The first two years usually focus on basic sciences such as anatomy, biochemistry, and pharmacology. The last two years allow students to gain practical experience in various specialties through rotations in different areas of medicine.

Residency Program

Upon successful completion of medical school, graduates enter a family medicine residency program. These programs last three years and provide intensive hands-on training in the various aspects of family medicine. Residents gain experience in pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry, and surgery.

Board Certification

After completing their residency, family physicians can become board certified by passing the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) examination. This certification demonstrates that the physician has met high standards in their field and is committed to continuing education to stay up-to-date with the latest medical advancements.

Continuing Education and Fellowship Programs

Even after becoming board certified, family physicians are expected to pursue ongoing education to maintain their certification and keep abreast of the latest developments in their field. This can be achieved through continuing medical education (CME) courses and training programs. Additionally, some family physicians choose to complete fellowship programs in specific areas of interest, such as sports medicine or geriatrics. The journey to becoming a family physician is undoubtedly challenging and requires dedication and perseverance. However, the reward of being able to provide comprehensive healthcare to individuals and families throughout their lives makes it a fulfilling career path for those with a passion for medicine.

Family Physician Career Path Progression

Becoming a family physician is a rewarding career path that allows you to make a difference in the lives of your patients. This career path is marked by several key stages, each one requiring dedicated learning, practical experience, and continuous professional development. Here, we will explore the progression of a Family Physician Career Path in detail.

Undergraduate Education

The journey to becoming a family physician begins with a bachelor's degree. Typically, aspiring family physicians will pursue a pre-medical track or major in a science-related field such as biology, chemistry, or physics. During this time, students should focus on maintaining a high GPA and gaining exposure to the medical field through volunteering or internships.

Medical School

After completing an undergraduate degree, the next step is attending medical school. Acceptance into medical school is competitive and requires a strong academic record, good scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and relevant experiences that demonstrate commitment to the medical field. Medical school typically lasts four years, during which students receive in-depth training in various medical disciplines.

Residency Training

Upon graduating from medical school, new physicians must complete a residency program in family medicine. These programs usually last three years and provide hands-on experience under the supervision of experienced physicians. Residents learn to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions and gain exposure to different patient populations and healthcare settings.

Board Certification

After finishing residency training, family physicians are eligible to become board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). This certification demonstrates that a physician has met nationally recognized standards for education, knowledge, experience, and skills in family medicine. It requires passing an exam and must be renewed every seven to ten years.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Even after achieving board certification, family physicians must commit to ongoing learning and professional development. This includes completing continuing medical education (CME) credits to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in family medicine. In addition, many family physicians choose to pursue additional qualifications or sub-specialty training to enhance their skills and broaden their scope of practice.

Advancement Opportunities

With experience and additional training, family physicians can advance in their careers in several ways. Some may choose to specialize in areas such as sports medicine, geriatric medicine, or palliative care. Others may pursue roles in healthcare administration, medical education, or research. Ultimately, the career progression for a family physician is versatile and offers numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. In conclusion, the Family Physician Career Path is a progressive journey that starts with undergraduate education and culminates in advanced roles within the healthcare field. Each stage is crucial and requires dedication, continuous learning, and a deep commitment to patient care.

Family Physician Career Path Specializations and Subfields

As an integral part of healthcare, the field of family medicine offers a variety of career specializations. These subfields allow family physicians to concentrate on specific areas of interest, offering a high level of expertise to their patients. Here, we'll dive into some of the common and unique specializations available to those pursuing a career path in family medicine.


Family physicians often choose to specialize in geriatric medicine, focusing on the health and wellness of older adults. This specialization encompasses the comprehensive health needs of aging patients, including chronic disease management, preventive care, mental health, and end-of-life care. To become a geriatrician, a family physician must complete additional training and certification.

Sports Medicine

Another popular subfield is sports medicine. Family physicians in this area work with athletes to prevent injuries, manage existing conditions, and enhance performance. They also play a crucial role in the recovery process after an injury. Certification in sports medicine requires additional education and training beyond standard family medicine residency programs.

Adolescent Medicine

Adolescent medicine is a unique subfield where family physicians concentrate on the health needs of teenagers. This includes addressing issues like growth and development, behavioral problems, and other health issues unique to this age group. Physicians specializing in adolescent medicine undergo additional training after their residency.

Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice and palliative care is another specialization within family medicine. These physicians focus on providing compassionate care to patients with serious, life-limiting illnesses. They work to manage symptoms, alleviate pain, and improve quality of life for both patients and their families. Additional training is required to specialize in this area.


Family physicians can also choose to specialize in obstetrics, providing prenatal and postnatal care, as well as delivering babies. These doctors offer comprehensive care to pregnant women and play a crucial role in the safe delivery of newborns. Family physicians specializing in obstetrics must complete additional training beyond their initial residency.


Lastly, some family physicians may choose to focus on research within the field of family medicine. These professionals work to advance the field through studies, clinical trials, and developing new treatments or interventions. Physicians opting for a career in research often pursue further education in this area. In conclusion, the field of family medicine offers a broad range of specializations and subfields that can cater to different interests and patient populations. By choosing to specialize, family physicians can deepen their expertise and provide a high level of care in their chosen area.

Family Physician Career Path Job Market and Outlook

As a family physician, the opportunities available in the job market are vast and diverse. From private practices to large healthcare systems, the need for skilled and dedicated family physicians is continually increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a growth rate of 7% for all physicians and surgeons between 2018-2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for family physicians can largely be attributed to an aging population that requires more medical services. Additionally, as healthcare becomes increasingly complex, the role of a family physician has evolved to provide comprehensive healthcare for individuals and families across all ages, genders, diseases, and parts of the body. This broad scope of practice makes family physicians an integral part of the healthcare system.

Key Factors Influencing Job Market

Several key factors contribute to the positive outlook for family physicians in the job market. Firstly, the expansion of healthcare services due to changes in healthcare policies and legislation has led to an increase in demand for primary care providers, such as family physicians. Secondly, there's a significant shortage of primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas. As a result, family physicians willing to practice in these areas often have increased job prospects and may qualify for loan repayment programs or other incentives. Lastly, advances in technology and healthcare innovation continue to create new opportunities for family physicians. Telemedicine, for example, has expanded the reach of family physicians by allowing them to provide care remotely.

Challenges in the Job Market

Despite the positive outlook, family physicians also face challenges in the job market. These include administrative burdens associated with insurance and reimbursement issues, maintaining work-life balance due to long working hours and on-call duties, and staying up-to-date with rapidly advancing medical knowledge and technologies.

How to Thrive in the Job Market

To thrive in the job market, family physicians must be equipped with a strong foundation of medical knowledge and excellent interpersonal skills. Continued education and professional development are crucial to stay abreast of medical advancements and best practices in patient care. Building a strong network within the healthcare community can also provide valuable job opportunities and support. Joining professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), can offer resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy for family physicians. In conclusion, while there are challenges in the job market for family physicians, the outlook remains positive due to increasing demand, evolving roles, and new opportunities created by advances in healthcare.

Family Physician Career Path Salary and Compensation

The profession of a family physician is not only rewarding in terms of the impact they have on patients' lives but also in monetary terms. The financial compensation and benefits for a family physician can vary greatly depending on factors such as geographic location, years of experience, level of specialization, and the type of practice setting.

Average Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for family and general practitioners, which includes family physicians, was $213,270 in May 2020. However, it's important to note that this figure can fluctuate based on the aforementioned variables.

Salary Range and Factors Influencing It

Family physicians' salaries can range widely from around $150,000 to over $300,000 per year. This variation is influenced by a number of factors. Geographic location is one significant factor; typically, doctors in urban areas with a high cost of living tend to earn more than those in rural areas. Experience also plays a critical role in salary determination. As family physicians gain more experience and establish their reputation, their earning potential increases. Furthermore, family physicians who choose to specialize in certain areas or demographics, such as geriatrics or sports medicine, may command higher salaries due to the specialized knowledge and skills they bring.

Benefits and Perks

In addition to base salary, many family physicians also enjoy additional benefits and perks as part of their compensation package. These can include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and professional development opportunities. Some employers may also offer tuition reimbursement for continued education or specialty certifications. Furthermore, many family physicians have the opportunity to earn performance-based bonuses or profit-sharing. This means that if their practice or healthcare system performs well financially, they share in those profits.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for family physicians is quite promising. According to the BLS, employment of family and general practitioners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. This growth is driven by the continued need for comprehensive primary healthcare services. In conclusion, the salary and compensation for a family physician career path can be very rewarding, with ample opportunities for growth and advancement. It's an excellent career path for those interested in providing comprehensive healthcare services to individuals and families across their lifespan.

Family Physician Career Path Tips for Success

Achieving success in the family physician career path requires a combination of education, skills, and strategic planning. Here are key tips for success to help you thrive in this rewarding field.

Education and Training

The journey towards becoming a family physician starts with obtaining an undergraduate degree, preferably in a science-related field. This is followed by four years in medical school and three years of residency in family medicine. It's important to excel in your coursework and acquire a solid foundation in the sciences. Clinical experience is also crucial for gaining hands-on experience in patient care. Continuing medical education (CME) is a requirement for maintaining licensure and staying updated with the latest developments in medicine. Look for opportunities to attend workshops, seminars, and online courses that offer CME credits.

Board Certification

After completing your residency, consider obtaining board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). This certification validates your expertise in family medicine and can significantly boost your career prospects.

Soft Skills

Aside from clinical skills, family physicians need to possess excellent communication skills. You'll be interacting with patients of all ages, their families, as well as other healthcare professionals. Empathy, patience, and listening skills are vital for building trust with patients. Problem-solving abilities are also key since family physicians often need to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions. Organizational skills are essential too, as you'll need to manage patient records, schedule appointments, and coordinate care.

Networking and Professional Development

Joining professional organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) can provide networking opportunities and resources for career development. Attend conferences and seminars to meet other professionals in your field and learn about the latest research and trends in family medicine.


Consider specializing in a particular area of family medicine, such as sports medicine, geriatric medicine, or palliative care. This could set you apart from others in your field and open up new career opportunities.

Work-Life Balance

The family physician career path can be demanding, so it's essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Look for ways to manage stress, such as regular exercise, mindfulness practices, and taking time off when needed. Remember, success in the family physician career path is not just about professional accomplishments but also personal well-being. By investing in your education, skills, and overall health, you can build a fulfilling and successful career as a family physician.

What is a Family Physician?

A family physician, also known as a family doctor, is a medical professional who provides comprehensive health care for individuals and families. Unlike specialists who focus on specific areas of medicine, family physicians treat a wide range of health conditions and diseases across all ages, genders, and parts of the body. They play a crucial role in preventive care, providing regular check-ups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening tests.

What does a Family Physician do?

Family physicians focus on the holistic health of their patients. They diagnose and treat illnesses, provide routine check-ups, administer vaccinations, and offer advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They also manage chronic illness, often coordinating care provided by other subspecialists. From heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, and asthma, family physicians provide ongoing, personal care for the nation’s most serious health problems.

What is the career path of a Family Physician?

The career path to becoming a family physician begins with obtaining a bachelor's degree in a pre-medical or science-related field. This is followed by four years of medical school to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. After medical school, aspiring family physicians must complete a three-year residency program in family medicine where they gain hands-on experience under the supervision of experienced doctors. Following residency, physicians can choose to become board-certified by passing an exam administered by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM).

What are the specializations within Family Medicine?

Family medicine offers several sub-specialties for further exploration and specialization. These include geriatric medicine (care for older adults), sports medicine (treatment of sports or exercise-related injuries), palliative care (relief from symptoms and stress of serious illness), and sleep medicine (diagnosis and treatment of sleep disturbances and disorders), among others. Each requires additional fellowship training and board certification.

What is the job outlook for Family Physicians?

The job outlook for family physicians is promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of family and general practitioners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Aging population and increase in chronic diseases are driving demand for healthcare services, which should lead to more opportunities for family physicians.

What is the salary range for Family Physicians?

Salaries for family physicians can vary widely depending on experience, location, and specialization. However, according to Medscape’s 2020 compensation report, the average salary for a family physician in the United States was $234,000 per year. This makes family medicine one of the most rewarding careers in terms of financial compensation.

What skills are needed to be a successful Family Physician?

Family physicians need a wide range of skills to be successful. They should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to interact with patients and their families. They must also have good diagnostic abilities and a broad knowledge of various medical conditions. Other important skills include problem-solving abilities, patience, empathy, and the ability to work under pressure. Additionally, they should be committed to lifelong learning due to the constantly evolving nature of medicine.

What type of education and training is required for a Family Physician?

Becoming a family physician requires extensive education and training. This includes a bachelor's degree, four years of medical school, and three years of residency in family medicine. Some doctors may also choose to complete additional fellowship training in a sub-specialty area. All states require doctors to be licensed; requirements vary by state. Family physicians must also pass a certification exam from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and maintain their certification through ongoing education and assessments.

What are the work hours like for a Family Physician?

The work hours for family physicians can be long and irregular. They often work more than 40 hours per week and may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays. Additionally, they may be on call, which means they must be available to address patient concerns or emergencies outside of normal office hours. However, some family physicians work in settings with more predictable hours, such as school health clinics or administrative roles.