Primary Care Physician Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a primary care physician. You can use our job description template in this article to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a primary care physician.
Who is a Primary Care Physician?
Primary care physicians, also known as general practitioners or family doctors, are responsible for providing personal assistance, medical attention, and emotional support to coworkers, customers, and patients.
Primary Care Physician Job Description
Below are the primary care physician job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
A primary care physician is responsible for the following tasks.
- Treat patients with medications, manage chronic conditions and provide preventative care.
- Perform diagnostic tests and procedures such as physical exams, blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and so on to identify medical problems and make diagnoses.
- Examine test results with other doctors to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment plans.
- Communicate with patients regularly to monitor their progress and keep them up to date on any changes to treatment plans.
- Coordinate care with specialists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and other health care providers when necessary.
- Prescribe medications and offer other treatment options as needed based on the diagnosis and patient needs.
- Conduct regular physical exams that include height, weight, vision, hearing, blood pressure, and other tests as needed.
- Create a care plan for each patient that takes into account their lifestyle habits and medical history.
- Refer patients to other medical professionals such as dietitians or physical therapists when necessary.
- Interview patients to assess symptoms, take a medical history and perform basic physical exams.
- Request additional medical testing, such as blood work and x-rays if necessary.
- Refer patients to specialists for further evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.
- Assist patients with preventative medicine and emphasize good health habits to reduce disease risk.
Qualifications for becoming a primary care physician include the following.
Education: All primary care physicians must have a bachelor’s degree and, in most cases, a medical degree. Medical school is a four-year program that includes both classroom and clinical instruction. Basic science courses such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and microbiology are studied during the first two years of medical school. Clinical rotations take up the final two years of medical school, where students spend time in various medical specialties such as pediatrics, family medicine, and psychiatry.
Experience and training: Primary care physicians must complete a residency program after graduating from medical school. Residency programs typically last three years and provide physicians with hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Physicians will work under the supervision of a licensed physician during their residency. They will be taught how to diagnose and treat patients, as well as how to manage patient files and communicate with other medical professionals. Primary care physicians can apply for fellowships after completing a residency. Fellowships enable physicians to specialize in a particular field. A primary care physician, for example, can apply for a fellowship in family medicine, geriatrics, or pediatrics.
Licenses and certifications: Primary care physicians must be licensed in their state or district to practice. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but all require candidates to pass the USMLE.
Primary care physicians need the following skills to be successful on the job.
- Effective Communication Skills: Patients’ health and treatment options are discussed with primary care physicians. They explain medical conditions and treatment plans to patients using verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They also use communication skills to listen to and respond to patients’ concerns and questions. Communication skills are also important for developing trust with patients, which can encourage them to adhere to treatment plans and visit the doctor regularly.
- Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. Empathy is frequently used by primary care physicians to establish trust with their patients. This can help them communicate with and understand their patients better. A primary care physician, for example, may use empathy to explain a diagnosis to a patient who is concerned about the potential side effects of treatment.
- Medical expertise: The ability to comprehend and apply medical information to patient care is referred to as medical knowledge. To provide the best care for their patients, primary care physicians must have a thorough understanding of medical conditions and treatments. This includes being aware of the most recent treatment options and medical research. Medical knowledge can assist you in providing the best possible care for your patients and keeping them healthy.
- Excellent organizational abilities: Primary care physicians frequently have multiple responsibilities, such as managing patient records, ordering and reviewing lab results, managing insurance claims, and keeping an appointment schedule. Organizations can assist primary care physicians in managing their workload and responsibilities. It can also assist them in providing high-quality care to their patients.
- Technological abilities: Technology skills can assist primary care physicians in staying current on medical technology and tools. This can assist them in providing the most effective treatment methods to their patients. A primary care physician with technological skills, for example, can use their knowledge to find the most effective treatment methods if a patient has a condition that requires specific treatment.
- Excellent problem-solving abilities: The ability to identify and resolve issues is referred to as problem-solving. When diagnosing patients, primary care physicians frequently use problem-solving skills because they must determine what is causing their patients’ symptoms. For example, if a patient complains of abdominal pain, the doctor must determine whether it is the result of an infection or another condition. This necessitates the doctor analyze the situation, ask questions, and perform tests to determine the source of the problem.
- Keen Attention to Detail: To provide their patients with the most accurate information and treatment options, primary care physicians must be detail-oriented. This is especially important when diagnosing a patient because the primary care physician is responsible for identifying any underlying conditions or complications that may necessitate additional medical attention.
- Understanding of ECG Interpretation: Electrocardiograms, or ECGs, are frequently used by primary care physicians to diagnose heart conditions. This skill necessitates the understanding of electrical activity in the body and how it affects heart function. A primary care physician who can effectively interpret an ECG can assist patients in understanding their condition and determining whether they require additional medical attention.
- Excellent leadership abilities: Leadership abilities are the ability to motivate and guide others. Primary care physicians frequently work in teams with other medical professionals, so it’s critical that you can effectively lead your team. You may also be a mentor to new primary care physicians, so having strong leadership skills will help you support them throughout their careers.
- Understanding of Laboratory Interpretation: The ability to comprehend and interpret medical laboratory results is known as laboratory interpretation. Lab results are frequently used by primary care physicians to diagnose conditions, determine treatment options, and track patient progress. Because lab results can be complicated, primary care physicians must have strong skills in this area.
- Patience: Primary care physicians frequently work with patients over long periods, so patience is essential. To help their patients understand what they’re going through, they may need to explain medical conditions and treatment options in detail. Primary care physicians also devote a significant amount of time to listening to their patient’s concerns and answering their questions. Patience is required because some patients may take some time to ask all of the questions they have or feel comfortable asking.
- Patient Education: Patient education is a valuable skill for primary care physicians to have because it allows them to teach their patients how to live a healthy lifestyle. For example, if a patient has high blood pressure, the doctor can explain what they need to do to lower their blood pressure and lower their risk of developing future health problems. This also helps to build trust between the patient and the physician because the patient knows the physician is looking out for their best interests.
- Physical Examination: A physical examination is a battery of tests and evaluations that help primary care physicians assess the overall health of their patients. These professionals may perform a variety of examinations during a physical, including listening to the patient’s heart rate, checking for any abnormalities in the body, and checking the patient’s blood pressure.
- Medical History Taking: The process by which a physician gathers information about their patient’s previous medical conditions, symptoms, and treatments is known as medical history taking. This information can assist them in making more informed treatment decisions and identifying any potential health risks in their patients’ lives. Understanding your patient’s medical history can also help you build trust with them as they learn to trust your judgment in making treatment decisions.
- Disease Prevention: Primary care physicians use disease prevention to help their patients maintain good health. To reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, primary care physicians frequently recommend lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising more. They also educate their patients about common illnesses so that they can take preventative measures.
- Radiology Interpretation: A primary care physician must be able to read medical images like X-rays and MRIs. This ability is important because it enables a doctor to detect any abnormalities in the body that may necessitate treatment or further investigation. It also ensures that patients receive accurate diagnoses, allowing them to take the best possible care for their health.
- Pharmacology: Pharmacology is the study of drugs and their effects. Primary care physicians frequently prescribe medication to treat a variety of ailments, so they must understand the medications they’re recommending. This ensures that patients receive safe care and make the most of their prescriptions.
- Therapeutics: The ability to prescribe medications and treatment plans for patients is referred to as therapeutics. When diagnosing a patient, primary care physicians frequently use this skill because they may need to prescribe medication or recommend physical therapy. This is also an important aspect of their job because it ensures that their patients receive proper care.
How to Become a Primary Care Physician
Here are several steps you can take to become a primary care physician.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant health care or medical field: To begin your career as a primary care physician, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Pre-med, biology, and chemistry are some of the most common degrees held by aspiring primary care physicians.
It is critical that you take courses that will help you prepare for medical school during this time. These courses should cover anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, and physiology. You should also think about taking additional classes or getting certified in the type of primary care you want to practice. If you want to be a family medicine doctor, for example, you might study obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics.
- Finish medical school and earn a doctorate in medicine: You can apply to medical school after completing your bachelor’s degree. Medical school is a four-year program that includes classroom and laboratory instruction in anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, and pharmacology, among other topics. You also complete clinical rotations in hospitals or clinics, where you work directly with patients.
The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is taken during medical school to obtain a license to practice medicine. The USMLE consists of three parts, each of which is taken after one year of residency training.
- Complete a residency program and obtain your state’s license to practice: After graduating from medical school, you must complete a residency program to be licensed to practice medicine in the state in which you wish to work. Most residencies last three years and are held in a hospital or clinic setting. You will learn how to diagnose and treat patients with common conditions such as diabetes and heart disease during this time. You could also choose to specialize in a particular area of primary care, such as family medicine or internal medicine.
- Pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE): To practice medicine in the United States after completing your residency program, you must pass the USMLE. The Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) is the first step in this process, and it tests your knowledge of basic science concepts and principles.
The second step is to pass the three-part USMLE, which includes the following exams:
- Cognitive Evaluation
- Clinical Skills Evaluation
- Examination for Licensure.
You must complete each exam within a specific time frame, so plan accordingly. Each exam can only be taken once per year.
- Gain patient-care experience in a primary care setting: You must complete a residency program after graduating from medical school. A residency is a specialized training program that allows you to put your medical school education to use by working directly with patients under the supervision of licensed physicians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants.
During your residency, you can choose from a variety of specialties, including family medicine, internal medicine, and general surgery. After completing your residency, you may choose to further your education in one of these fields.
- Improve your communication skills: Because you interact with patients regularly, communication is essential as a primary care physician. You must be able to clearly explain medical terminology to your patients so that they can receive the best care possible.
You should also be able to listen well to hear any concerns or questions your patients may have. Additionally, good communication with other healthcare professionals who work alongside you is essential. This will help ensure that all of the patient’s needs are met.
- Stay current on medical industry changes: As a primary care physician, you must stay current on developments in your field. Reading medical journals regularly and attending conferences or lectures can help you learn about new treatments, research findings, and industry trends. This knowledge can assist you in providing the most up-to-date care to your patients.
Where to Work as a Primary Care Physician
A primary care physician’s workplace is typically an office, clinic, or hospital. They put in long hours, frequently 50 or more per week. They may be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They treat patients with a wide range of medical issues. They must be capable of making quick decisions and dealing with emergencies. They collaborate with other healthcare workers such as nurses, physician assistants, and pharmacists.
Primary Care Physician Salary Scale
In the United States, the average primary care physician’s salary is $179,975 per year or $86.53 per hour. Starting salaries for entry-level positions start at $97,785, with most experienced workers earning up to $229,986 per year.
In the United Kingdom, the average primary care physician’s salary is £60,000 per year or £30.77 per hour. Starting salaries for entry-level positions start at £42,948, with most experienced workers earning up to £96,390 per year.
In Canada, the average primary care physician’s salary is $215,000 per year or $110 per hour. Starting salaries for entry-level positions start at $181,870 per year, with most experienced workers earning up to $289,896 per year.
In Ireland, the average primary care physician salary is €63,643 per year or €32.64 per hour, with entry-level positions starting at €60,875 per year and most experienced workers earning up to €115 500 per year.
In Australia, the average primary care physician’s salary is $190,624 per year or $97.76 per hour. Starting salaries for entry-level positions start at $127,939 per year, with most experienced workers earning up to $214,988 per year.
In Germany, the average annual salary for a primary care physician is €150,831 and the hourly wage is €73.
In Nigeria, a primary care physician earns around 653,000 NGN per month.