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Welcome to the University of Colorado’s Department of Family Medicine.

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Advising & Career Planning in Family Medicine

Our goal in Family Medicine - Medical Student Eduction is for interested students to thoughtfully:

    1. Consider the specialty of family practice using the best (most accurate and unbiased) information available.
    2. Personally decide whether to pursue additional training in family practice.

After years of assisting students to select their specialty and residency, we have the following suggestion: Be selfish in choosing a medical specialty. You are the one who has to be happy while practicing your specialty for the next 20-35 years! Choose your specialty based on what is important to you, and make sure you don't abdicate the selection of your specialty to someone else...a parent, spouse, respected role model, or faculty.

Drs. Kent Voorhees and David Gaspar are the initial resources for students wishing to explore Family Medicine as a career. We encourage students to contact them to begin the advising process. After discussing your interests, they can connect you with additional family physician advisors matched to your interests. 

Too Smart?

Students have been told by faculty outside our specialty that they are “too smart” for Family Medicine and in the next breath told that Family Medicine is too difficult a specialty.

The truth is that specialty choice has more to do with what kind of doctor you wish to be rather than some academic hierarchy dreamt up by others. Make sure you have accurate information about the "real world" - not "the world according to the Anschutz Medical Campus" characteristics of the specialty you plan to enter.

Go out and spend time with someone practicing that specialty in the setting you want to practice in (rural, urban, suburban). Does that fit with how you see yourself as a physician?​

4th Year

Fourth Year Planning for Students Interested in Family Medicine

  • Be enthusiastic during your Family Medicine rotations and foster good relationships that can result in letters of recommendation from your preceptors.
  • Select elective rotations that will keep your base of education broad. Don't concentrate too many electives in one area or specialty.
  • Select elective rotations in areas of medicine you've identified as your weak spots. Attempt to improve knowledge or skill deficits.
  • Select elective rotations which might not be available to you in your residency. These might include international rotations or those in highly specialized areas that may not be available in smaller community residencies (i.e., rheumatology, hospice, child development, psychiatry).
  • Use your Sub-I to explore one of your top programs. If you know that you're interested in a highly competitive residency program or just want to get an inside look at a specific residency, take a sub-internship in Family Medicine or elective at that program.
  • Watch out, a burned bridge in one Colorado program is likely to burn more bridges than you thought!
  • If you are interested in a Family Medicine residency within an academic medical center, consider taking a Family Medicine Research elective. There are exciting projects available which will enable you to work one-on-one with faculty and possibly a publication. 

Family Medicine Doctors

Family Physicians are an eclectic bunch, and while a diverse group of graduates enter the specialty there are some common characteristics of those who select family practice careers.

Those with a Family Medicine orientation tend to:

  • Enjoy relating to, communicating with, and working with people and families.
  • Enjoy the variety of problems seen in a broad-based generalist specialty.
  • Feel comfortable acknowledging that, "I don't know everything about everything" and that it is necessary to be a life-long learner.
  • Feel comfortable with uncertainly and deal with uncertainty with thoughtfulness and realism.
  • Are flexible, creative and resourceful and like to engage in problem-solving.
  • Are willing to assume on-going responsibility for the care of their patients and advocate for the health of their community.
  • Value their own family and friends and want to maintain a personal life.


Besides what students commonly see at their preceptor’s offices, family docs commonly “specialize” in:

  • Women’s Health
  • Medical Administration
  • Hospitalist Practice
  • Sports Medicine​
  • Correctional Medicine
  • Geriatrics
  • Adolescent Care
  • Addiction Medicine
  • Public Health
  • Academic Medicine


Investigate the need for additional physicians in the FM specialty. For at least the last 15 years, students have been told that in a few years family physicians will be replaced by Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants.

On the contrary!  During this time, the need has increased, not decreased, and family physicians have continued to work with other providers collaboratively to enhance care.  So be cautious about hearsay and rumors about job availability.  Do your best to get the facts.

Family physicians will always be in demand given the numbers produced each year and the changing needs of our population.