Family physicians and GPs often work irregular hours, including nights and weekends, and may also be on-call 24 hours a day when required to respond to emergencies. Resident physicians generally work long hours, which could be up to 60 hours per week, however, this trend may be decreasing.
Family physicians and GPs are increasingly practicing in groups, and with other health professionals such as pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners.
Improvements in technology have led to changes in the way care is provided, and general practitioners and family physicians are increasingly using electronic resources to support patient care, including electronic medical records, electronic prescribing and electronic results access. They are also using computer-based education and information resources more frequently and interaction between patients and doctors happens more often via electronic means such as telephone or email. Most physicians are also using PDA-type devices.
Family physicians spend the majority of time in their practice, however, they may be required to travel to hospitals to provide specific types of patient care. Family physicians are also occasionally required to provide in-home patient care.
General practitioners and family physicians generally see a large volume of patients requiring different types of assessments, support or treatment each day so there is a great deal of variety in a physician's work.
Due to the nature of the work, family physicians and general practitioners are exposed to infectious diseases and physicians must be very careful while examining patients. Necessary precautions include the use of safety equipment and clothing, as well as sterilization or disposal of some equipment and protective clothing after use.
Family physicians and GPs must also be prepared to handle the often fragile emotional state of their patients, and when combined with long working hours, a high volume of patients, a diverse array of treatments administered and strict safety precautions, it can be a stressful working environment.
Industry sources report that practice management and clinical training programs combined with targeted incentives have drastically improved professional satisfaction. Physicians often feel a sense of satisfaction from the nature of their job - helping people.