As a family medicine physician, you’ve (like all doctors) completed four years of medical school plus a residency. However, you’ve obtained a broader range of knowledge than other types of physicians, allowing you to help patients of all ages, and gender, and to diagnose and treat a variety of ailments. Because of this, you’re qualified to work in a variety of medical settings, and you just have to choose the one that suits you best. Here’s a look at four medical settings that employ family medicine physicians.
1: Hospitals and Hospice Care Centers
As a family medicine physician, you have the skills and knowledge necessary for working in a hospital. This setting is perfect if you don’t mind various work hours and being on call. In a hospital, you’ll provide in-patient care, screenings, and immunizations, if necessary. You can also work in hospice as a part of a multidisciplinary team, providing end-of-life care for those with terminal illnesses.
Not many family medicine physicians work in hospitals (unless they have a specialization), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t become employed in one. It’s just more common for family medicine physicians to work in outpatient centers.
2: Locum Tenens
Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means temporarily filling in for another, and this is an occupational position often done by physicians. If you have a love for traveling to different places accompanying your passion for medicine, then this is a position to consider. Locum tenens physicians often travel a lot, filling in for other physicians. You can travel around your home country, or travel to other countries across the world.
This position also gives you a chance to bring medical care to places that may not have access to it. Being a doctor is a very rewarding career, but locum tenens can make it even more rewarding when you have the chance to bring advanced medical care to those who don’t have it.
3: Private Practice/Open Your Own
The majority of family medicine physicians work in a private practice setting, and may even specialize in a particular area, such as adolescent medicine, geriatric medicine, sleep medicine, and sports medicine. However, family medicine physicians generally work as primary care physicians when working in a private practice, so you’re more likely to see people of all ages and treat a variety of conditions. Working in a private practice also gives you a more predictable schedule, aligning closer to your typical 9 AM to 5 PM hours.
You’re also qualified to open your own private practice as a family medicine physician, although doing so comes with a lot of responsibilities. You can, however, open a medical practice with other physicians (this is known as a group practice), and this way, all of the costs and benefits of opening a medical practice are shared. Some of the costs associated with opening a medical practice include securing funding, equipping your practice, obtaining licenses and insurance, staffing your practice, and the general day-to-day tasks of managing a medical practice. On the other hand, when you own your medical practice you’ll have more control over how you get to practice medicine, and control over your work schedule.
4: Urgent Care Centers
Finally, as a family medicine physician, you can be employed in an urgent care center. Urgent care is kind of like the “happy medium” between the routine tasks of a family medicine practice and the fast-paced emergency room. Emergency rooms are where patients go for life-threatening medical conditions, while family practices are where they go for routine checkups and conditions that don’t require immediate care. Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are where patients go when they need immediate (non-life-threatening) care and can’t get an appointment with their primary care provider.
Urgent care centers are similar to hospitals and emergency rooms as they’re usually open every day (but not always 24 hours), including holidays. However, physicians aren’t usually on the same types of schedules as doctors working in hospitals and emergency rooms.
When it comes to choosing where you want to be employed as a family medicine physician, it ultimately comes down to your preferences and any specialized training you may have. The majority of family medicine physicians work in outpatient centers or private medical practices, but you can find work in almost any type of medical setting. Just make sure that the work environment allows you to perform at your best so that you can take the best care of your seniors.