Finding Out What’s Important

First in our series Family Physician Competitive Pay


Online forums about compensation for family medicine doctors abound. The conversations may or may not be accurate. Knowing those numbers matters less than the rhetoric suggests.

Location is the biggest factor for most physicians in a job search. In the past 12 months, our organization has interviewed over 4,100 physicians. What we usually see is that:

  • New graduates looking for a large metropolitan area
  • Physicians coming to the end of their first contract (typically 2 or 3 years after residency) are moving near their family
  • Physicians with board actions willing to go anywhere in a state
  • Physicians with family abroad are looking to live near a major airport in a region closer to their family (parents in Toronto so they want a major city in New England or near the Great Lakes)
  • Mid-career physicians staying in a tight radius of where they’re currently ensconced
  • Major life disruptions causing relocation (divorce, death in the family, practice gets acquired)
  • Late career physicians relocating near grandchildren

Note: Hospitalists are typically open to a wider geographic area than outpatient/primary care physicians. If you get any other week off, you can travel more. It doesn’t matter a whole lot if your family is 15 minutes away or 3 hours.

People are the next biggest factor. As a family medicine physician, you will spend about 40% of your waking life at work during a typical week. If you really enjoy your peers and patients, you will be willing to: drive a little bit farther, earn a little less, and work a little longer.

People are the trickiest thing to get a read on when looking for a position. A job description doesn’t truly tell you anything about them—too much gets lost in translation.

Money closely follows as the next biggest determining factor for whether a position is right for you. You are (most of the time) going to know the location and the people long before you know about the money. Most positions in the same area are going to have similar pay. There will be a strong contrast between the highest and the lowest-paying position. If you consider the majority in the middle, the gap is not nearly as huge.

Filtered through practices that are hiring, geography, inpatient/outpatient, and getting to the written offer stage: positions will typically pay in the same range. If you get multiple offers and they are in the same ballpark, you can now negotiate easily.

Be careful not to turn down the job before it is offered to you. How much money you can earn doesn’t matter if you don’t get the job offer. You can only get the offer if you apply. The better the position, the more high-quality candidates will show up which lowers your odds of securing an offer (even though we all know you’re great).

There are even more factors that will influence which position is right for you.

  • How secure is the job?
  • How mentally stimulating is it?
  • Is there flexibility for me to alter the schedule to pick up my kids?
  • Can I become a partner?
  • Is it qualified for a federal student loan forgiveness program?

Looking strictly for high-compensation positions is often deceiving. Appreciate that the biggest determining factors won’t be in a job description. Weigh the qualitative information. Speak with a specialized, independent recruiter to help you navigate the soft details. For the Eastern US call or text Ben Kennedy  at (540) 400-7641 or email For Central and Western US, call of text Chris LaBreque at (540) 206-2818 or email









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