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Choosing a Medical Specialty: Family Medicine

Discussion in 'Family Medicine' started by Ghada Ali youssef, May 27, 2017.

  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

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    Family medicine is the next specialty we’ll explore in this continuing series, which is designed to help you think through some of your medical specialty options.

    What is family medicine?
    Family medicine is one of the broadest medical specialties. As a family doctor, you’ll care for patients of all ages and treat a wide range of common ailments and injuries. You’ll counsel patients on health topics such as the importance of preventive medicine, exercise, and a healthy diet.

    Other duties include prescribing medicines, providing vaccinations, and helping to manage ongoing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. You’ll also help coordinate specialty medical care if your patients ever need to see a specialist.

    Most important: With family medicine, you become the doctor a family never outgrows!

    The skills you’ll need as a family doctor
    Being a family doctor requires significant interpersonal skills because of the day-to-day relationship with your patients. It also takes a special combination of compassion and professionalism that allows you to approach tasks sensitively, ethically, and compassionately.

    Communication skills are essential as well—you’ll need to effectively communicate with patients, entire families, and other medical professionals.

    Training to be a family doctor
    Family doctors receive a broad range of training that includes:

    • internal medicine
    • pediatrics
    • obstetrics and gynecology
    • psychiatry
    • geriatrics
    Residency consists of three years with required rotations in the major medical disciplines.

    Subspecialties in family medicine
    You can certify into several family medicine subspecialties, which will require added training and examination. Those subspecialties include:

    • Adolescent medicine. As a family doctor trained in adolescent medicine, you’ll treat the unique physical, psychological, and social aspects of teens and their health problems and needs.
    • Geriatric medicine. When you specialize in geriatric medicine, you’ll have expertise in the aging process and special skills in preventing, diagnosing, and treating illnesses in the elderly.
    • Hospice and palliative medicine. When you’re a family doctor who specializes in hospice and palliative medicine, you care for patients who suffer with life-limiting illnesses.
    • Pain medicine. As a family doctor specializing in pain medicine, you’ll offer inpatient and outpatient care for patients with acute, chronic, and/or cancer pain.
    • Sleep medicine. This specialty requires demonstrated expertise in diagnosing and managing clinical conditions that affect sleep.
    • Sports medicine. When you’re a family doctor specializing in sports medicine, you’ll prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries related to patients who participate in sports and/or exercise.
    A family medicine resident’s average hours and pay
    According to the American Medical Association Residency & Fellowship Database (aka FREIDA Online), these are the average hours and pay you can expect as a family medicine resident:

    • Average hours on duty per week: 61.6
    • Average maximum consecutive hours on duty: 16.2
    • Average days off duty per week: 1.3
    • Average resident/fellow compensation: $51,889
    Family medicine and The Match for IMGs
    A report published by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) shows that 48.4 percent of U.S. IMGs matched to their preferred specialty. For non-U.S. IMGs, the overall match rate was 46.8 percent.

    The report documents the following statistics about IMGs who indicated their preferred specialty as family medicine in the 2016 Main Residency Match:

    • Total positions offered in family medicine: 3,238
    • Total number of all applicants: 4,139
    • Number of all applicants per position: 1.28
    • U.S. IMGs
      • Matched: 596
      • Not matched: 631
      • Total: 1,227
    • Non-U.S. IMGs
      • Matched: 315
      • Not matched: 520
      • Total: 835
    Why become a family doctor?
    When you become a family doctor, you can choose from a diverse range of work situations—from private practice to hospitals to nursing homes. You can also get added training to pursue specialties or move into teaching or administrative careers in health care.

    If you like variety, you’ll experience it when you’re a family doctor. From heart, endocrine, and lung conditions to joint and gastrointestinal disease, you’ll need a knowledge of all organ systems and disciplines.

    You may also perform a number of procedures such as joint injections, minor surgery, and cardiac stress testing. If you like the idea of providing complete, ongoing care to families in your community, family medicine will make for a satisfying career.

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