Career Outlook: Family Practitioner
A family practitioner is usually the first doctor that someone will call when they are experiencing an illness or health problem. A family practitioner will use their knowledge as a medical professional to diagnose and treat a variety of medical issues. If a medical problem is outside their range of practice, they will refer the patient to an appropriate specialist. Family practitioners also participate in well-care visits with their patients. These are visits that the patient attends despite being in good health.
A family practitioner specializes in providing medical care for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a variety of medical issues. Family practitioners are found in urban and suburban settings, as well as most small, rural communities. Some family practitioners in rural areas are even able to oversee a pregnancy, help a woman give birth to a child, and supervise a newborn’s medical care.
How to become a Family Practitioner
In order to be a family practitioner, one must complete a bachelor’s degree. Common pre-med undergraduate degrees include biology and chemistry. Aspiring physicians must then pass the MCAT exam, and go through four years of medical school. Upon graduating from medical school, family practitioners work as hospital residents for three to four years under the supervision of an attending doctor.
In addition to the required schooling, some family practitioners opt to gain additional certifications so that they can perform more complex procedures, such as delivering a baby.
Are family practitioners in demand?
Family practitioners will always be needed. Without family physicians, medical care becomes fragmented, leading to greater chances of medication errors and potential for unnecessary treatment, hospitalization, and expenses. In many ways, these physicians are the backbone of medicine, especially in rural areas where other medical specialists are less common than in urban settings. The trend toward medical students choosing to specialize in sub-disciplines other than family practice suggests that there will be a shortage of these doctors over the next decade.
In fact, some medical schools are increasing their enrolments on the basis of higher demand for family practitioners. Competition for jobs in family practice is predicted to be less intense than in many other specialities. Overall competition in the medical field is tempered by the fact that it takes a long time – usually twelve to sixteen years – for aspiring doctors to complete their education and enter into practice.
The workplace of a Family Practitioner
Family practitioners work in hospitals or private practices. In the workplace, they will be interacting not only with patients, but with nurses, office workers, and other medical professionals. Some work as professors for universities, while others find work with the government or for non-profit organizations.
In rural settings, family practitioners generally set up their own office to serve the people of a town. In urban settings, the workload can be much busier.