General Practitioners


Employment Prospects


Approximately 126,600 general practitioners are employed in the United States. General practitioners may choose to open a solo private practice, join a partnership or group practice, or take a salaried job in a clinic or managed care (HMO or PPO) network. Salaried positions are also available with state and federal agencies (including the Department of Veterans Affairs), hospitals, neighborhood health centers, nursing homes, community health centers, urgent care centers, and the military. Other physicians may decide to teach at medical schools or university hospitals.

The majority of physicians practice in urban areas, near hospitals and educational centers. Therefore, competition for patients is likely to be higher in these areas. In contrast, rural communities and small towns are often in need of doctors and may be promising places for young physicians to establish practices.

Starting Out

Many new physicians choose to join existing practices instead of attempting to start their own. Establishing a new practice is costly, and it may take time to build a patient base. In a clinic, group practice, or partnership, physicians share the costs for medical equipment and staff salaries, as well as establish a wider patient base.

General practitioners who hope to join an existing practice may find leads through their medical school or residency. During these experiences, they work with many members of the medical community, some of whom may be able to recommend them to appropriate practices.

Another approach would be to check the various medical professional journals, which often run ads for physician positions. Aspiring physicians can also hire a medical placement agency to assist them in the job search.

Physicians who hope to work for a managed care organization or government sponsored clinic should contact the source directly for information on position availability and application procedures.

Advancement Prospects

There are few advancement possibilities for general practitioners. Like most other physicians, these doctors stay in their field, building their practices until retirement. As they build their patient bases and reputations, their practices become larger and their incomes steadily increase. For those who work in a large group practice, advancement may come in the form of opening a private practice.

Some general practitioners decide to pursue a teaching or research career at a college or university. Generally, these doctors first earn a Ph.D. in the sciences.

Tips for Entry

Join the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, and the American Osteopathic Association to access career information, job listings, publications, and continuing education and networking opportunities.

Visit for job listings.

Read American Family Physician and Family Practice Management (both available at and Annals of Family Medicine ( to learn more about the field. 

Become certified by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) in order to show potential employers that you have met the highest standards established by your profession.