Family Medicine Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

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If you are interested in becoming a physician that is more focused on preventing of illness, encountering a wide range of ailments and establishing an ongoing rapport with your patients then you might be best suited for a career in family medicine. Family practice physicians are trained to diagnose, prevent and treat medical conditions in men, women, children and the elderly.

As a family medicine physician, you can also choose to specialize in one particular segment of population. Besides men, women, children and the elderly, some other specialties you might consider would include:

  • Sports medicine: You specialize in the management of sports injuries and continuous care with a focus on health and fitness improvement and injury prevention.
  • Geriatric medicine: Deals with the unique challenges of the aging process including the preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative aspects of aging.
  • Adolescent medicine: You would specialize in dealing with the unique physical, psychological and social characteristics of adolescents and their health-care problems and needs.
  • Sleep medicine: The diagnosis and management of various clinical conditions that occur during sleep or as a result of disturbed sleep.
  • Hospice and palliative medicine: Involves preventing and relieving pain and suffering in patients with terminal illnesses.

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Family physicians usually work in private practices or clinics, either individually or as part of a group of physicians who specialize in different clinical areas.

As a family physician, most of your days would be spent at the office in which you practice with some days spent visiting patients, either in the hospital or in nursing homes or other elder care facilities. Family medicine physicians typically work normal business hours during the week and can often take half or whole days off as they choose. On average, a family medicine physician sees about 20-25 patients each day, with an increase during cold and flu seasons, as this is one reason many people see their family practice physician.

Training Requirements

In order to become a practicing physician of family medicine you must complete a 4- year medical school program followed by a 3- year residency training program. During this program you will get hands-on experience in the field supervised by a practicing family physician. After completion of your residency, or at some point during it, you will have to pass a licensing exam. Then, if you choose to become certified to practice one of the specialties mentioned above, then you will need to complete at least one year of training in that area.

Salary

The average annual salary of a family physician in Australia ranges from AUD 41,217 at the lower end to about AUD 197,385 at the higher end. The salary varies depending on various factors such as work experience, field of specialisation, health care setting and geographical area of work.

Outlook

Because they are trained in the unique medical needs of men, women, children and the elderly, these family physicians are always in great demand no matter where you look. Also, because many insurance plans require that the individual or the family gets referred to a specialist by their primary care physician or family practice physician, these doctors fill a necessary position. The prospects are often better in rural areas as they tend to have a harder time attracting doctors than big cities do.

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