Family Medicine

Frequently asked Questions by MS1s and MS2s

Family Medicine is arguably the most diverse of all medical specialties, providing care to patients of all ages from newborn to geriatrics, as well as obstetrical services. Family Medicine physicians practice in a wide range of practice environments ranging from office-based practice to hospital settings, from urgent care centers to skilled nursing facilities. Family Medicine Residents receive training in six major medical disciplines: pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, surgery, and community medicine.

Research is not required. If a student is interested in pursuing research there is a wide variety of topics given the breadth of influence in Family Medicine; the research topics do not need to be Family Medicine specific. There is a great deal of flexibility due to the wide variety of patients and the fact that Family Medicine encompasses acute, chronic and preventative medical care.

Your Career and Professional Advisor can help provide you with local Family Medicine Specialty Advisor contacts who may need help with ongoing projects. Local Program Directors are also more than happy to help. These Mentors, as well as Dr. McEchron, can provide great resources. Work with your peers, recent graduates, local Residents and Fellows as well as Family Medicine faculty and express your interest in getting involved.

Volunteer work is not required, however given the history of Family Medicine’s involvement in the community there is a wealth of opportunity to become involved. The Family Medicine Interest Group is a great place to start to learn about local programs. The Community Health Initiative and the Wesley Health Center are both excellent opportunities to become involved in the medical care of the Phoenix community.

Learn more about the Community Health Initiative here

See how you can become involved with Wesley Health Center here

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) tracks statistical scores for students matching into each specialty. Learn more about the Family Medicine match trends here

Frequently asked Questions by MS3s and MS4s

It is fine to ask for a letter of recommendation (LOR) during your Family Medicine Clerkship during third year. We recommend also doing a Family Medicine sub-Internship and possibly an away rotation in Blocks 1-5 of your 4th year to facilitate developing professional relationships and obtaining letters of recommendation.

You should have your CV updated and your personal statement available for reference. If you are asking for a LOR during a clinical rotation, consider asking for it about three weeks into the rotation from a faculty member with whom you have worked closely, when the impression of your performance is fresh in the letter writer’s mind. When asking for a LOR it is ideal to do it in person. It is appropriate to ask specifically if they would be comfortable writing a “strong letter of recommendation.” Letters should be uploaded to ERAS directly by the letter writers by the beginning of September of your fourth year, so make sure to give your letter writers ample time to write their letters, and be sure to thank them for their effort.

You will need a minimum of three, and at least two should be from FM physicians.

Yes. Family Medicine is quite diverse, so input from a physician from another specialty would be fine.

No, a chair letter is not necessary.

An away rotation is not required. Some of the benefits of doing an away rotation include networking in an area of the country where you would like to end up, as well as figuring out if a particular residency program is a good fit. We recommend working closely with your Career Advisor and Specialty Advisor to help with this decision.

Program Information specific to Family Medicine:

Family Medicine programs are described as either “opposed” or “unopposed.” Both have their own unique benefits. Opposed (also called multi specialty programs) have other residencies on site - such as Ob/Gyn, peds, or surgery programs. Advantages may be more learning opportunities from subspecialty training programs, while disadvantages could include competition for procedure numbers. Unopposed (also called solo residency programs) have only FM residents on site and they tend to be the only learner group. These residents do not have any competition for procedures or cases, but may not have the richness of collaborative learning from other training programs. Students should consider their individual learning styles and goals when weighing the different program types.

Locally, Abrazo Health Phoenix Baptist and Honor Health Scottsdale Osborn are unopposed; Banner University Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Family Medicine programs are opposed.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix Family Medicine Program here

Check out the American Association of Family Practice website here

Listen to the American Association of Family Practice Podcast here