Occupational Guides banner
Detailed Guide for

Family and General Practitioners in California

May also be called: Board Certified Family Physicians; Family Medicine Physicians; Family Physicians; Family Practice Doctors; Family Practice Physicians; Medical Doctors; Medical Staff Physicians; Physicians; and Primary Care Physicians

What Would I Do?

Family and General Practitioners may diagnose and treat many different illnesses. When needed, They refer patients to specialists, like podiatrists or dermatologists, in order for the patients to receive appropriate care. Family and General Practitioners order laboratory tests, X-rays, and other forms of medical evaluations as needed.

Family and General Practitioners spend the majority of their time meeting with patients. They generally have a group of patients for whom they care from young adulthood until late adulthood. In rural areas they may also have infant patients. After making a diagnosis, Family and General Practitioners may prescribe medications. The Practitioners must educate the patients and their family members on the proper use of medication and how to properly treat illnesses. Family and General Practitioners also provide dietary advice and educate patients on the prevention of illnesses.

Tools and Technology

Family and General Practitioners use a variety of tools in the course of their work, including stethoscopes, automated external defibrillators, syringes, glucometers, suture removers, otoscopes, and suture removers. They also use technology such as medical reference software, e-mail and word processing software, computers, and smartphones.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

TaskSkill Used in this Task
Prescribe or administer treatment, therapy, medication, vaccination, and other specialized medical care to treat or prevent illness, disease, or injury.Judgment and Decision Making
Order, perform, and interpret tests and analyze records, reports, and examination information to diagnose patients' condition.Medicine and Dentistry
Collect, record, and maintain patient information, such as medical history, reports, and examination results.Active Listening
Monitor patients' conditions and progress and reevaluate treatments as necessary.Problem Sensitivity
Explain procedures and discuss test results or prescribed treatments with patients.Oral Expression
Advise patients and community members concerning diet, activity, hygiene, and disease prevention.Service Orientation
Refer patients to medical specialists or other practitioners when necessary.Critical Thinking
Coordinate work with nurses, social workers, rehabilitation therapists, pharmacists, psychologists, and other health care providers.Inductive Reasoning
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET) at online.onetcenter.org

Working Conditions

Family and General Practitioners commonly work indoors. Practitioners who are part of a health group are likely to have backup coverage, allowing the Practitioners flexibility with planning their schedules. Family and General Practitioners working as part of a health group generally work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday. They may also be on call on a rotational schedule. Family and General Practitioners in private practice may work long and irregular hours such as evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may also tend to emergencies and last minute appointments.

Due to the nature of their job, Family and General Practitioners regularly come into close contact with sick people. Practitioners can reduce the risk of illness by taking proper safety precautions when performing patient consultations. The use of surgical masks, gloves, and frequent hand washing helps Practitioners avoid contracting the illnesses their patients bring into their offices. Family and General Practitioners may need to purchase their own malpractice insurance.

Most Family and General Practitioners who own their private practice are generally not members of a union. Practitioners who are part of a health care network may be members of a union like the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Family and General Practitioners may appeal to those who enjoy searching for facts and figuring out problems. They should also enjoy helping people and have the ability to relate to their patients and their patients’ relatives. Family and General Practitioners who intend to go into private practice should possess excellent communication and business skills to manage their practice and employees.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages are not available for Family and General Practitioners. Earnings vary according to experience, location, and number of hours worked. Family and General Practitioners who work in rural areas tend to earn less than those who work in larger cities.

Family and General Practitioners generally receive excellent benefit packages, including health and life insurance, vacation and sick leave, and pension plans. Those in private practices are responsible for providing their own benefits and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Job opportunities for Family and General Practitioners are expected to increase, primarily due to population growth and an aging population that will require frequent medical attention.

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Individuals interested in becoming Family and General Practitioners will need to have completed a bachelor’s degree, an accredited medical school program, and a residency program. Prior to enrolling in a medical school, applicants must have completed 90-semester hours or 135-quarter hours of college-level coursework. Completed college coursework must include biological sciences, general and organic chemistry, physics, English, and college-level mathematics. Future Practitioners will also need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Applicants should check with the individual medical school admission offices for specific admission requirements prior to submitting an application. Although the completion of a college or university degree is not required for applying to medical school, it is strongly encouraged.

After the completion of medical school, individuals must begin a residency program where they work under the supervision of experienced doctors and begin to put their medical knowledge to work. The residency typically lasts three years with a concentration in family medicine. After the successful completion of the residency program, Family and General Practitioners may begin practicing medicine on their own.

Early Career Planning

Prospective Family and General Practitioners should take courses in mathematics, science, and English. They should also volunteer in various types of community service activities such as working in soup kitchens or mentoring school aged children in order to distinguish themselves from other individuals also applying to medical school.

Continuing Education

While continuing education is currently not a requirement for maintaining the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the U.S. Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMPLEX-USA), it is required to maintain the California State License and specialty certifications from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).

Licensing and Certification

All Family and General Practitioners must be licensed through the United States Federal Government and the State of California. Family and General Practitioners with a Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree must pass the USMLE. The USMLE is a three part comprehensive test that assesses a doctor’s medical knowledge and abilities.

Doctors with an osteopathic medical degree must pass the COMPLEX-USA. Similar to the USMLE, the COMPLEX-USA is a three part examination that tests new Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.) on their knowledge and ability to perform the job of a Physician.

The State of California Department of Consumer Affairs, Medical Board of California licenses all medical doctors who practice medicine in the State of California. Applicants are encouraged to begin the process six to nine months before they will be required to hold a license. Doctors will need to renew their license every two years.

The State of California Department of Consumer Affairs, Osteopathic Medical Board of California licenses all osteopathic doctors who practice in the State of California. Doctors will need to renew their license every two years.

For all licenses, contact the licensing agency in order to learn about current fees, application submission requirements, testing dates, renewal procedures, and continuing education requirements. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.

There are many different certifications that exist for Family and General Practitioners, such as gastroenterology certification from the ABIM. These certifications provide validation that the Practitioner is recognized as a specialist in the particular area. Most certifications require passing an exam, paying a fee, and completing continuing education requirements in order to maintain certification. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site at www.acinet.org and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" at www.acinet.org/certifications_new/default.aspx and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/resources/training-and-apprenticeships.html

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Family and General Practitioners are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Offices of Physicians45.7%
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals18.9%
Outpatient Care Centers17.1%
State Government4.0%
Colleges and Universities1.8%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html

Finding a Job

Direct contact with employers is a traditional means to finding a job as a Family and General Practitioner. The hospitals where recently graduated doctors complete their residency programs often provide employment once the residency period has ended. They may also provide references or letters of recommendation. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Family and General Practitioners.

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, use "Find Employers" on the LaborMarketInfo Web site at http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/aspdotnet/databrowsing/empMain.aspx?menuChoice=emp

Where Could This Job Lead?

Family and General Practitioners may choose to open their own private practice. Private practice allows Family and General Practitioners to earn more money.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Family and General Practitioners.

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification at www.bls.gov/soc/29-1062
O*NET - Occupational Information Network at online.onetcenter.org/
   Family and General Practitioners29-1062.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC) at online.onetcenter.org/find/descriptor/browse/Interests/#curISR

The California Occupational Guides are a product of:
The California Employment Development Department
Labor Market Information Division

Printed on Monday, August 15, 2022