Finding the Right Job: Two Key Issues


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To find the right job, you have to ask the right questions about compensation and the work environment.

Fam Pract Manag. 2015 Sep-Oct;22(5):12-14.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

After several years serving as a physician for a large health care organization in my city, I recently found myself looking for a new job when my wife and I decided to move out of the area to be closer to family. Before committing to such a major life change, it was important to think about my career goals and my family's future, but I also had to research more immediate issues such as the basic elements of an employment contract. (For an overview, see “Evaluating Employment Agreements,” FPM, July/August 2012.)

In this article, I'll share what I learned about the two issues that proved to be most crucial in the job search and selection process.


The first and foremost item on any job seeker's agenda is how they will get paid. Nationally, average compensation for family physicians is between $180,000 and $198,000, depending on the source of the data,13 but starting salaries for new family physicians are closer to $161,000.4

Most employers will initially compensate a physician with an agreed salary, often with a productivity component. Productivity is usually based on the work relative value units (RVUs) the physician generates over the year. For example, a 99212 visit has 0.48 work RVUs, while a 99214 visit has 1.5 work RVUs. More work equals more RVUs and more pay.

You'll need to do some research and find out what the salary averages are in your area. Networking with colleagues locally can be helpful, but you may also want to consider joining a physician social networking site such as Doximity. Its career section includes a “Salary Map” that shows salaries reported by members by region.

Once you've done your basic salary research, ask

About the Author

Dr. Cuenca is a board-certified family medicine and sports medicine physician. He serves as the site physician lead for OptumCare Medical Group, doing business as Ross Medical Associates, in Ladera Ranch, Calif.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.


show all references

1. Practice Profile Survey. Leawood, Kan; American Academy of Family Physicians. 2014. http://www.aafp.org/about/the-aafp/family-medicine-facts.html. Accessed Aug. 17, 2015....

2. Peckham C. Medscape Physician Compensation Report. Medscape website. April 21, 2015. http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2015/public/overview. Accessed Aug. 17, 2015.

3. 2015 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives. Irving, Texas; Merritt Hawkins. 2015.

4. Starting Salaries for Physicians: MGMA Physician Placement Starting Salary Survey. Washington, DC; Association of American Medical Colleges. 2014. http://bit.ly/1K6HNJp. Accessed Aug. 17, 2015.


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