Lifestyle & Income in Family Medicine

Family physicians routinely report a high level of professional satisfaction, a positive balance between career and home, and a comfortable lifestyle. Work hours, schedule, and family time vary for each family physician depending on specific practice arrangements. There are many practice models available in family medicine, giving family physicians the flexibility to choose from a range of lifestyle and income options.

Work-Life Balance

How Family Physicians Spend Their Time

In 2017, the AAFP's Family Medicine Facts tables reported that family physicians:

  • Spend 90% of their professional time involved in patient care and clinical practice
  • Work an average 46 hours per workweek
  • See an average of 74 patients per week in office-based visits (11 in other settings)
  • Have an average of five weeks for vacation or CME-related activities per year

One of the unique aspects that the specialty of family medicine offers is a higher degree of flexibility than many other medical specialties.

Because family physicians are needed everywhere, they have the option to choose to work in urban or rural settings, to pick their practice environment and scope of practice, and to pursue different career paths, such as public health, teaching, or research. These options enable a manageable and rewarding balance with family life and personal interests.

Explore the variety of career options available in family medicine »

Income

Incomes for family physicians compare favorably to those of other primary care specialties as well as other professional careers that require advanced education and training. Career satisfaction surveys also indicate that family physicians are generally pleased with their incomes.

While income typically varies by region, years in practice and type of practice, the family physician average income of $209,000 per year allows physicians to effectively pay off student loans in a reasonable amount of time while comfortably supporting their families.

In some areas, especially rural settings, family physicians who practice maternity care can expect to earn an average of $5,000-15,000 more per year in net income. Additionally, salary reports from a national health care research firm(www.merritthawkins.com) show that starting bonuses can reach as high as $30,000 for family physicians.

Income is also impacted by whether a physican works in a solo, two-person, or multispecialty practice. Depending upon the region of the country in which one chooses to practice, certain office visits and procedures are also rewarded more highly.

Learn how to plan for your financial future as a doctor »

Well-being

Family physicians care for more patients than any other specialty, and their well-being is a priority in creating a holistic and sustainable health care system. There are many elements that play a role in physician well-being, including practice model type, career flexibility, and system-level factors. For example, broad scope of practice is associated with lower levels of burnout(www.napcrg.org).

In 2017, 75% of AAFP members reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their careers, and 79% said they have a good sense of well-being. 

What Family Physicians Do

Care for patients regardless of age or health condition, sustaining an enduring and trusting relationship.

Serve as a patient's first contact for health concerns.

Navigate the health care system with patients, including specialist and hospital care coordination and follow-up.

Use data and technology to prioritize and coordinate services, enhancing access, continuity, and relationships.

Care for patients in the context of their family and the ways in which the health of each family member affects the others.

Understand the effects of community-level factors and social determinants of health, helping patients to identify community resources available.

What Family Physicians Do

Care for patients regardless of age or health condition, sustaining an enduring and trusting relationship.

Serve as a patient's first contact for health concerns.

Navigate the health care system with patients, including specialist and hospital care coordination and follow-up.

Use data and technology to prioritize and coordinate services, enhancing access, continuity, and relationships.

Care for patients in the context of their family and the ways in which the health of each family member affects the others.

Understand the effects of community-level factors and social determinants of health, helping patients to identify community resources available.