brand logo

Your options are limitless, so start your job search with a clear understanding of your personal and professional interests.

Fam Pract Manag. 2021;28(5):30-35

This content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations.

Choosing a job after residency is an important milestone in one's medical career and can also be an overwhelming decision. Practice patterns of new family medicine residency graduates have changed over the years, with fewer providing inpatient care, for example. According to a 2020 survey of family physicians three years post-residency, 99% provided direct patient care and 81% provided outpatient continuity care.1 About 65% of family physicians practice in the state where they completed residency, which is higher than most other specialties.2 Trends indicate that although recent family medicine residency graduates feel better prepared to provide a wide range of clinical services compared with a decade ago, they have a narrower scope of practice.3 Residents graduating from unopposed programs, where there is only a single residency program, and those practicing in rural areas are more likely to maintain a wider scope of practice.4

These trends may be related to changes in health care systems as well as applicants' preferences to balance work with other interests and demands. Regardless, it remains true that family physicians are in high demand and have many career options. The following cases highlight approaches to thinking through three types of job searches: 1) a traditional primary care physician job search, 2) a job search focused on balancing professional and personal values, and 3) a job search exploring non-primary-care job opportunities.


  • Family physicians are in high demand and have many career options today, including traditional primary care practice, jobs with greater flexibility in terms of scope and work-life balance, and non-clinical positions.

  • Personal and professional referrals and networking remain the most common ways to search for and find jobs.

  • Start your job search by thinking about your interests in three categories: practice type, scope, and location.


Dr. Xena is excited to move closer to her family and has several options to consider in her hometown. She is planning to work full time while her partner stays home with their children. She has a few ideas about what she is looking for in a career but wants some guidance, so she decides to bring up some career questions during her meeting with a faculty mentor.

Unlike many universities or medical schools, her residency program does not have career counselors to whom residents can turn for advice. Residents in this situation are encouraged to reach out to a variety of people who can help with the process, such as program directors, faculty mentors, external recruiters, or their organization's own recruiters or human resources representatives. Even in the age of technology and social media, personal and professional referrals and networking remain the most common ways to find jobs.5

Already a member or subscriber?  Log In


From $80
  • Immediate, unlimited access to all FPM content
  • More than 36 CME credits/year
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available

Issue Access

  • Immediate, unlimited access to this issue's content
  • CME credits
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available

Article Only

  • Immediate, unlimited access to just this article
  • CME credits
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available
Interested in AAFP membership?  Learn More

Continue Reading

More in FPM

More in Pubmed

Copyright © 2021 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.