Employment Work Archive

Family Practice Physician Employment Expected to Rise

While they are often the most visited physicians in the country, there is an increasing shortage in the number of family practice physicians. The trend began almost 4 years ago, when statisticians noticed that less and less graduating medical students were choosing primary care, or family practice, as their specialization. In a recent survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, for the Physicians’ Foundation, it was found that about 150,000 (or half) of the country’s family practice physicians planned to quit practicing or see fewer patients over the next three years. With less family medicine physicians entering the workplace and more physicians leaving family practice, it is sure to create an abundance of available employment opportunities.Physicians, who are in the phase of choosing a specialty, have been gravitating towards other, more focused, fields of medicine. With the ability to charge a premium and focus on one particular region of medicine, choosing a focused specialty can be alluring and lucrative. Having found their particular niche in medical school, or perhaps during internship, most prospective physicians are choosing to remain within that focus when seeking employment. Family practice treats a broad audience, and a broad knowledge is needed in order to properly treat these patients. While it may not be as enticing, it is often just as rewarding.What seems to be shocking is the finding that family practice physicians are planning to leave their practices, or reduce their number of patients over the next three years. Many physicians cite frustrations with the current Medicare reimbursement structure. When Medicare does not reimburse the physician for the full cost of the services provided to the patient, the physician is forced to bill the remaining balance to the patient. It is often that these patients are unable to pay the remaining balance because they are elderly citizens living on a fixed income, and many of them do not carry supplemental health coverage. Physicians who are self employed, working as an independent practice, cite that they have experienced a dramatic increase in the required non-clinical paperwork required by Medicare.We all know how frustrating paperwork can be! With all the complaints filed it’s important to consider that although family practice physicians may be feeling it more strongly, these are concerns that have been voiced by physicians throughout the industry.With the shortage of primary care physicians comes great hope for those seeking employment opportunities. There is growing availability in almost every area of the country, but specifically rural areas. With patients in great need of finding an established family practice, there are also growing opportunities for physicians looking to start their own practices. Small groups of physicians are opening family practices in farming communities and are finding it difficult to keep up with the amount of patients wishing to be seen. They are able to work together and spread the responsibilities of patient care, hospital rounds and call duties among the participating physicians. Often, they are successful enough to offer salaries and benefit structures that are competitive with urban markets. Additionally, these rural family practices serve the community, not only by providing much needed health care, but also by providing employment for support personnel.