Income

Determining your future income is a complicated process. Numerous variables, such as the region, practice setting and number and mix of patients in the practice, contribute to the income formula. Examining the contributing factors to income can help you sift through the myths and find the truth.

Separate Fact from Fiction: Your Future Income Potential

A recent study indicates that students often misjudge the typical income of physicians, especially physicians working primary care settings. For example, it isn't unusual for students to hear that physicians working in family medicine don’t make enough to pay off their loans. However, the truth is that family physicians make enough money to pay off student loans and have the lifestyle they want.

According to a 2008 survey by the AAFP, family medicine residency graduates with less than seven years of experience (or under 36 years of age) earn, on average, more than $145,000.

Family physician income is highly dependent on region, practice setting and the number and mix of patients. A family physician's flexibility to tailor clinical services offered to patients can shape income. For example, family physicians who see more patients and see patients in the hospital will have a higher income. In the future, incomes for family physicians are projected to increase as much as 25% in practices that use new technologies and new care models, such as chronic disease management.

The best thing you can do to evaluate income potential is to consult credible sources for physician income, such as national and regional specialty societies. The AAFP conducts surveys of family physicians and the results can be found on the Facts About Family Medicine page. Another source of income data is Merritt Hawkins & Associates(www.merritthawkins.com).