Family Medicine Salary: How Much Does A Family Doctor Make?
People become doctors for a number of reasons. Some want the fast-paced atmosphere of the ER. Others want the challenge (and salary) of a surgeon. And some become family doctors, preferring to focus on the entire person, rather than stick with a specialty.
If you’re thinking of making family practice your career as a physician, you’ll need to know what you’re in for salary-wise. Keep reading to find out the average family physician salary in your state.
Average Family Medicine Physician Salary by State
How much does a family medicine physician make? On average, a family doctor salary is $208,024.
Your exact salary range will vary by a number of factors including where you live, if you work in a hospital or private practice, and the services you offer. Here are family practice physician salaries based on state:
Compensation for Family Doctors vs. Other Medical Specialties
Even though family doctors treat the largest range of people, their salaries are on the lower end of physician specialties. On average, family physicians make about $234,000 per year. Here’s how that compares to some of their colleagues’ salaries, based on a Medscape report:
- Orthopedics – $511,000/year
- Plastic surgeons – $479,000/year
- Cardiologists – $438,000/year
- Urologists – $417,000
- Oncologists – $377,000/year
- Emergency medicine – $357,000
- Ob/Gyn – $308,000/year
- Psychiatry – $268,000/year
Family practitioners are at the bottom of Medscape’s salary list, above only public health practitioners and pediatric physicians, both of whom make $232,000/year on average.
Learn More: How Much Do Doctors Make an Hour?
Why are Family Doctors Paid Less Than Other Specialties
Family doctors aren’t paid less because their job is any easier than other physicians. There are a few sound reasons, including:
Patients of family doctors are generally healthier
When a patient goes to see an oncologist or a plastic surgeon, they are likely looking for an advanced treatment that requires surgery or long-term care. Family doctors operate in a more preventative capacity. Instead, patients often go once a year for a physical or when they have ailments like the flu or an ear infection.
While family doctors can deal with more serious matters, they reach a point where they’ll need to recommend a specialist. Those specialists will, in turn, be the ones who make more.
Family doctors perform less billable procedures
Family doctors don’t usually perform open heart surgery or reset broken bones. They focus on diagnosing and referring patients to specialists, as needed. Unfortunately, the more complex procedures come with a higher price tag, while preventative medicine pays less.
Specialists train longer
The longer you continue to study, the more you typically expect to make. With higher student loans and more complex procedures, there needs to be an incentive more than just passion for the job. Specialists like plastic surgeons and cardiologists need to pursue fellowships after residency, which can last up to 7 years. Plus, there are fewer specialists, making the field more competitive. These factors result in higher incomes.
Insurance payouts are different
How insurance pays doctors is a whole separate article, but in general, doctors who receive payouts from Medicare patients will see varying degrees of payouts. For procedural work, Medicare pays out more to physicians. For diagnostics, which is primarily what family physicians focus on, Medicare pays out less.
Increasing Your Pay as a Family Doctor
There are a few key moves family practitioners can make that can increase their income. While you likely won’t see hundreds of thousands of dollars extra, you can bump up your salary by a few thousand.
Take on more patients
The American Academy of Family Physicians found that the most influential factor in a family physician’s salary was the number of patients they saw. Higher earners saw about 122 patients each week, while lower salary earners saw just 84 patients in a week. If you’re looking to increase your income, consider taking on more patients, if that’s something your schedule can handle.
Get better at coding
Medical coding is almost like its own science. If you fail to code a patient’s care correctly, you could be short-changing yourself. If you own your own practice, you need to have a billing and coding department, even if it’s just a small one. This person (or team of people) can help you keep your billing in order so you’re getting the compensation you deserve.
Charge for no-shows
While it can be tempting to not charge patients who don’t show up for their appointment, you need to prioritize your business as well as your patients. A patient who doesn’t show up has taken an appointment slot from someone who could have used it and who could have paid.
Work as a locum tenens
You can work as a temporary or part-time doctor (locum tenens) to earn some extra income. This allows you to pick up extra shifts in different disciplines. Take a look at locumtenens.com, which shows locum tenens opportunities all around the country.
If you want to expand your business, you’ll only get more patients if they can find you. Having an easily navigable website is key to getting more patients in the door. Your website should not only look professional, but it should include the following:
- Your services
- Your hours & location
- An online booking portal (if that’s something you can manage)
- How payment works
- What insurance providers you accept
You don’t have to become a designer to accomplish this. You can hire a web designer and/or marketer to help you get traffic to your site.