Family medicine residencies reflect the broad scope and versatility of the specialty. Therefore, programs can be quite unique and different from one another. While every family medicine residency program is required to meet certain specifications and minimum requirements for accreditation, each has autonomy to adapt its program to meet the needs of its community, the strengths and interests of its faculty, and the training goals of its residents.
A strength of the family medicine specialty is the exposure to a variety and breadth of curriculum during residency, which helps you evolve and hone your skills and knowledge when starting out in a practice and advancing your career. When considering a residency, weigh each program’s curriculum, faculty, benefit package, community, and other offerings. Family medicine residencies should provide well-rounded training, even for residents with an interest in a focused area, like sports medicine.
Use the questions below during interviews to learn about a program’s focus areas, strengths, challenges, and to determine if they fit your preferences. These questions were developed with input from family medicine residency program directors and are organized by topic area.
Most residency program websites provide basic information about the program’s structure and philosophy. Meetings with faculty members and program directors are your opportunities to go beyond surface information. Use these questions to ask about curriculum, rotations, processes, past accomplishments and graduates, the future of the program, and elicit feedback about what life will be like as a resident.
The time you spend with a program’s residents is important to understanding what it would be like to become a resident with the program. Use these questions to ask current residents questions about the learning process, expectations, community service opportunities, lifestyle, and any other practical issues related to training.
Family medicine residencies require that residents have exposure and experience in obstetric care, including spontaneous vaginal deliveries. Students who are interested in delivering babies after residency, or providing care in complicated or surgical deliveries may want to apply to programs that offer training above the minimum requirements. The average family medicine resident performs 48 spontaneous vaginal deliveries, including 10 with continuity patients from their own panels. Use these questions to ask about women’s health and obstetrics care.
Family medicine residencies are required to teach procedures commonly performed by family physicians in ambulatory and inpatient settings. Many residency programs offer training in additional procedures their faculty has experience or interest in, and/or that are needed in the communities they serve. It’s also possible to receive procedural training through partnerships and relationships with other specialty departments and services in the context of your family medicine training. A great resource on procedural skills you can expect to receive is the Consensus Statement for Procedural Training in Family Medicine Residency created by the Council of Academic Family Medicine organizations. Use these questions to ask about those and other procedural training opportunities in your residency interviews.
Family medicine is unique because of the importance it places on advocating for the health of patients, families, and communities. Family medicine residencies have health policy training integrated into curriculum. Some residencies offer opportunities for training and exposure in health policy and advocacy, as well as flexibility for residents to pursue leadership roles in state, regional, or national positions.
Global health and international service opportunities vary widely by program. Some programs may serve a large community of patients who are immigrants or refugees, requiring the development of strong global health skills. Use these questions to determine how well a residency program will help you meet your goals for international experiences.
Not all residencies offer training in osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT). Use these questions if you’re interested in this type of work. You’ll probably need to check availability.
Family medicine residency programs are specifically required to have residents assess community, environmental, and family influences on health. Ask these questions to learn more about the populations you’ll be treating if you join a program.
While fellowships aren’t required after family medicine residency, if you plan to pursue a narrower focus in family practice, use these questions to help you prepare for a fellowship.
Not all family medicine residency programs prepare residents for academic and/or research careers. Use these questions to see if the program will meet your goals for an academic or research career.
Family medicine residents interested in sports medicine may need additional training outside the standard curriculum. Use these questions to ask about curriculum and other details in sports medicine.
Fewer than 15% of family medicine residencies incorporate integrative medicine practices into their curricula. Use these questions to ask about the program’s approach to teaching and practicing integrative medicine.
A program’s structure and culture will have a significant impact on your residency. Use these questions to ask questions about how wellness fits into the overall training program.
The AAFP app makes it easy to organize your residency search. Use the tool to research programs, create a customized scorecard to rank residencies on what matters most to you, track your application process, and more. Just download the app and visit the "For Students" section.