PREDICTION on salary trends: Family Practice
There is a shortage of primary care. and it is going to get worse as the US population reaches 50 million. Number of physician visits are directly proportional to the population. As the population increases, physician visits increase. That means more doctors are needed unless we can somehow work 36 hours a day. The demand for family practice is going to increase. But alas! not as sharply as Internal Medicine.
If you have already read about my post on Internal Medicine salary trends, there will be a serious short fall of IM docs. But there is a difference between the supply of Internal Medicine physicians and family practice docs. Physician Jobs in Internal Medicine nowadays can be categorized in three different types:
1. Traditional Internist: Those who see patients in the clinic and follow them in the hospital.
2. Hospitalists: Those who strictly treat hospital patients only.
3. Out-Patient Docs: They see patients only in out-patient clinics and hand them over to hospitalist or other docs when patients are admitted to the hospital.
The point is that not all of Internal Medicine graduates churned out by residency mills are ending up in out patient primary care practices anymore. Therefore the short fall is much more steeper than Family Practice. Many hospitalist programs employ Family Physicians. But most of the FPs continue to enter outpatient settings as they are more comfortable with it because of the nature of their residency training.
Financially the Family Physicians are becoming more business savvy by offering patients quite a number of procedures at their office. The patients find it convenient and the medical practices are able to keep the revenue in their practices. The hospitals hate it! As I said before, most of the technology is becoming cheaper and affordable for the docs to keep procedures in house.
So the prediction: Family practice salaries will continue to show 7-10% rise but I do not expect it to be spectacular (like the radiology salaries in late 90s). Internal Medicine salary spikes will probably be more substantial when we compare two primary care specialties.