Fact or Fiction about Family Medicine

Fuel your knowledge with the facts you need to make the decision that’s right for you! 

There is a growing need for osteopathic family physicians.
TRUE. A growing need exists for family physicians. A recent study by the Annals of Family Medicine concluded that the United States will require nearly 52,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025. This means that by choosing family medicine, you will have a highly marketable and sought-after medical degree to help meet the growing healthcare needs of the US.

Family medicine is the top specialty for future osteopathic physicians.
TRUE. With over 20,000 osteopathic medical students across the country, family medicine remains the largest matched specialty among osteopathic medical students today.

Despite some overlap with “internal medicine” and “family medicine," there are key differences.
TRUE. While internists and family physicians serve as primary care physicians, internists are trained in adult medicine, treating patients 18 and up—in a hospital or office setting. In fact, internists will spend an entire residency experiencing various adult medicine subspecialties—never receiving any pediatrics or obstetrics training. Family physicians’ residencies, on the other hand, encompass a wide range of specialties, including spending time with general surgeons, obstetricians, gynecologists and other family medicine doctors to treat children, sports injuries, skin lesions, perform minor surgery and much more. As a family physician, you are equipped from the very beginning with the clinical knowledge base and skills to treat all patients—infants, children, teenagers, adults and the elderly—if you want to. Regardless of which age groups you choose to treat, rest assured that, as a family physician, you possess the opportunity to broaden your practice (and your skills) by caring for the entire family—whenever you may want or need to.

Average income for osteopathic family physicians is increasing.
TRUE. Recent income increases represent significantly higher percentages than the cost of living index increases, and higher average increases than most other professions have seen year-to-year. Bottom line? There are positive income increases for family physicians for years past, the present, and, more than likely, the future to come.  On top of that, there’s a plethora of ways for family physicians to increase their income beyond these already-healthy averages. Read quick insights on how one family physician has significantly increased his earnings from the national averages.

You will be able to pay back your student loans.
TRUE. There are several resources at your disposal for assistance in paying back your student loans. Check out our Increased Income section for links to helpful resources. In addition, the federal government, private hospitals and individual clinics offer loan forgiveness programs with initiatives such as national medical loan repayment programs, non-governmental programs, military programs, state programs and the national association of community health centers.

Osteopathic family physicians can specialize.
TRUE. Within family medicine, there are Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQs) and Fellowships available in addiction medicine, adolescent medicine, geriatric medicine, palliative medicine, sports medicine, and so on. You can also participate in family practice dual programs such as family practice integrated with neuromusculoskeletal medicine and emergency medicine. These options allow you to customize your practice to suit your medical interests and career aspirations.

As a family physician, you can work with all ages and groups, or choose the ages/groups you’ll treat in your practice.
TRUE. There are many choices—and lots of flexibility—in family medicine. You may choose to work exclusively with elderly patients, children or young adults. You may serve a mix of all age groups. Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat to decipher and deliver exceptional care to suit your skill set or serve the greatest need in your community. As a family physician, you can always count on seeing a variety of patients with a variety of needs—regardless of their age.

People who enjoy relationships, listening and helping others are great candidates for family medicine.
TRUE. Osteopathic family physicians bring something extra to medicine. As a family physician, you will find fulfillment in building ongoing relationships with others and their families - listening, caring, and treating the whole person, not just “the problem.” Family physicians tend to find great personal reward in this unique role.

The Olympics, military and NBA all have one thing in common: osteopathic family physicians.
TRUE. Many osteopathic family physicians are not only hired by large institutions, but they hold high level positions. Notable osteopathic family physicians have held positions such as: U.S. Coast Guard chief medical officer, command surgeon of the U.S. Central Command and chief medical officer/team physician for the Olympics.

Many osteopathic physicians have participated in the Olympics as chief medical officers or team physicians for such sports as: skiing and snowboarding, figure skating, boxing, water polo and weightlifting. It is also not unusual to find an osteopathic physician as the team physician for professional and or college sports teams.

The cities and suburbs are more than likely where you’ll find an osteopathic family physician today.
TRUE. The bulk of practicing osteopathic family physicians—about two-thirds—work in a suburban/urban setting. About one-third are rurally located. Wherever you desire your practice to find a home, chances are you will find one in your favorite city, suburb or, if you wish, small town.

Osteopathic family medicine residency programs are as advanced as allopathic residency programs.
TRUE. Osteopathic residencies are required by the basic standards to train residents in more office procedures along with OMT. Didactic requirements are also extensive. While family medicine is primarily office-based, osteopathic residencies require continuity clinics to prepare you for all facets of an office practice. Not only will you have your own panel of patients, you will also learn the business side of medicine. At the end of your osteopathic residency, you will be qualified and able to enter the work force as a fully trained family physician.

While there is an increasing number of PA and RN programs across the country, family physicians continue to lead the way in family medicine.
TRUE. While PAs and RNs are an important part of any medical team, family physicians are still the reigning leaders in primary care—and in the highest demand. With a growing need for 52,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025, family physicians are needed for their direction, leadership and unique clinical skill set to encompass a truly patient-centered medical home approach.

You can deliver a baby – if you want to.
TRUE. Osteopathic family physicians deliver babies and regularly participate in pre-natal care of obstetrical patients. While only 10% of ACOFP members say they do OB in their practice, this is a growing area of interest and, more importantly, of opportunity. If OB/GYN is an area of interest to add to your family practice, most hospitals require a one-year fellowship. With a little extra work, you can improve your skillset and potentially double your starting salary.