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General Practitioner

Education and Training: Four years of undergraduate college and four years of medical school followed by at least a one-year internship.
Average Salary: $173,000
Job Outlook: Very good

Job Description

A general practitioner will examine patients who may have a large variety of chronic and acute illnesses. They provide health education and preventative care for both sexes and all ages and must be particularly skilled in dealing with people as it is an extremely people oriented career. They are often the first port of call for people who are feeling ill, and have to be able to diagnose multiple health issues and to prescribe the correct treatment.

General practitioners are responsible for referring patients for more specialist treatment and can order a variety of tests including x-rays, MRI is and blood tests. They may be able to perform minor surgery and can give vaccinations. An important part of a general practitioners life is to give patients advice on diet, general health matters and preventing disease. They must also be able to provide prenatal and postnatal care to mother and child, and are responsible for reporting any births, deaths and contagious diseases to the appropriate authorities.

Education and Training Requirements

In order to become a general practitioner it’s necessary to first complete a four-year university degree that will allow entry into medical school. Four years of medical school will enable someone to qualify as an MD, after which it’s necessary to do a residency or internship. This postgraduate medical education can take up to 7 years to complete, after which doctors are eligible for board certification. Continuing education is an important part of a general practitioners career.

Getting the Job

Completing your residency with a general practitioner will ensure you have real life experience, and will also introduce you to a number of other general practitioners and will help develop your network of contacts. Once you are fully qualified you can decide whether you wish to work within a hospital, in private practice or within a hospice. The career choices are quite diverse.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for a general practitioner are generally pretty good, as the population is ageing and improved medical technology means we are all living longer. Therefore employment in this field is projected to increase at around 22% until 2018. However technology should also ensure that doctors become more productive and the increased cost of health care may deter some people from visiting a doctor in the future.

As a rule most general practitioners do not make as much money as specialists who require several more years in residency, but those who have good business acumen and who are situated in an ideal location may eventually earn more than some specialists.

Working Conditions and Environment

A general practitioner will usually work around 55 hours a week, and doctor’s surgeries tend to be clean, comfortable and well equipped. However the job can be extremely stressful, and doctors are continually exposed to minor ailments.

Salary and Benefits

The starting salary for a general practitioner may be as low as $85,000 a year, while the best paid can earn around $225,000 a year. Although these salaries are much lower than specialists, the average working week of a general practitioner tends to be a lot less, and working conditions are generally good. Benefits depend on the employer but are generally worth at least $20,000 a year, while those who are self-employed will benefit from tax advantages.

Where to Go for More Information

American Academy of Family Physicians
Resident Student Activities Dept.
P.O. Box 11210
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207-1210.
(800) 274-2237

Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20037-1126
(202) 828-0400

Federation of State Medical Boards
Euless Office (Main Office)
400 Fuller Wiser Road, Ste. 300
Euless, TX 76039
(817) 868-4000

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine