Academic Medicine

What is Academic Family Medicine?

Family physicians can educate students within a medical school, act as deans, or become clerkships directors. Education of medical students ranges from advising roles to course directors.  Deans act physician-administrators, overseeing the affairs academic medical centers.  Clerkship directors coordinate residency programs and teach residents in a structured curriculum. Some residency programs are located within medical schools, others within community hospitals. (The Penn State Good Samaritan Family and Community Residency Program is a mixture of both!) Family physicians that act as faculty members at these residency programs also have the honor of teaching future family physicians.  Those family physicians that work within the field of Academic Medicine also perform extensive research on topics ranging from curriculum development to public health. 


Quick Facts

What do Academic Physicians do?

  • Conduct educational research
  • Teach medical students
  • Develop curriculum
  • Care for patients
  • Act as a residency director
  • Train residents 

Where do Academic Medicine Physicians work?

Many work as faculty members at medical schools, others as residency directors or faculty at one of the over 450 family medicine residency programs. There are nearly 30 family medicine residency programs in Pennsylvania alone!

Average Starting Salary

Physician faculty at medical schools are     actually among the lowest paid among family physicians, averaging a bit less than $150,000 per year. Pay is on the rise though!

          Fellowship salary: $57,000- $60,000                         per year 

Average Hours Worked/Week

20-  60 hours per week- varies immensely! 

Residency Requirements

 Completion of a family medicine residency. In addition to this, you can complete a 1-2 year Fellowship in Academic Medicine. Many physicians teach at medical schools without this fellowship, but the fellowship opportunities are expanding- see below.


Narrative by a Practicing Academic Family Physician

     “Academic work offers a balance of patient care, teaching and research, commonly known as the triple threats.  Upon joining Penn State College of Medicine after nine years of clinical practice in Seattle, I found myself in a career in academia fortuitously.  Serving as the director of the Family Medicine Clerkship, I discovered the joy of teaching.  I enjoyed developing new and innovative programs and ways to teach.  I was an early adaptor for computer-assisted instructions (CAI).  By collaborating with colleagues I met at the Society of Teachers of Teachers in Family Medicine (STFM) and other national meetings, I launched a program in the development and research of CAI.  This work resulted in a number of publications and has now evolved into a virtual patients program, a national STFM web-based resource.  I continue to see patients in the office and have conducted clinical research in the areas of asthma and email communication between patients and physicians.  I was fortunate to have received grant funding for my academic work.  My most recent project is developing a curriculum to teach the key concepts of the Patient Centered Medical Home for 3rd and 4th year students, funded by the Human Resources and Services Administration.  All my projects are driven by curiosity, a desire to test hypotheses and the passion to make things better.  My day is highly variable, and might include, patient care, teaching, making a conference call to work on a project, working on a grant proposal and writing a manuscript.  At the end of the day, I can truly say my day is full, rich and often exciting and rewarding.”

~ Dr. Shou Ling Leong 


Residency & Fellowship Requirements

  • Applying
    • Average Step 1 Score for Matching in Family Medicine is 214.
    • Average Step 2 Score for Matching in Family Medicine is 220.
  • Residency
    • Completing a 3-year family medicine residency is required to work within the field of academic family medicine. A fellowship is not required to act as a faculty member of an academic medical institution. You may want to consider research in curriculum development or education during your time in residency.
  • Fellowships
    • Many fellowships are year-long programs to be completed after finishing a 3-year family medicine residency. Others offer Masters in Public Health, Masters in Medical Education, or two-year research opportunities. You can take this career anywhere! See below for a complete list and additional details 


Research Opportunities

Project Title: Developing Educational Techniques for Learning and Understanding 2-Dimensional Imaging

                      Sponsor: Dr. Michelle Lazarus
                        Department: Neural and Behavioral Sciences


Additional Resources

 Society of Teachers in Family Medicine

 Opinion Piece on Academic Medicine Careers


Faculty available for shadowing opportunities. Click here for more information.

  • Dr. Dennis Gingrich
  • Dr. Shou Ling Leong
  • Dr. Dan Schlegel 
  • Dr. Matthew Silvis 

Additional Information regarding Fellowships




Residency Faculty Development Fellowship

Oregon Health and Science University

Portland, Oregon

A year-long fellowship that assists fellows in curriculum and project development.

Community Health Center Director Fellowship

Washington, DC

Trains health center directors for underserved residency-associated clinics

University of Illinois at Rockford Faculty Development Fellowship

Rockford, Illinois

A one-year program that can be extended into two years. This program develops curriculum development and administrative skills.

Faculty Development Center: Academic Family Medicine

Waco, Texas

A center specifically designed to train teaching physicians!

University of Iowa Faculty Development

Iowa City, Iowa

A year-long course in the study of academic medicine which can be extended into a two-year Masters program.

MUSC: Research Faculty Development

Charleston, South Carolina

This two-year Master degree program focuses on research within all fields of primary care.

University of Pennsylvania Faculty Development Fellowship

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This fellowship focuses on primary care research and health care disparities. It is two years in length, with the option to take a wide variety of classes, including places such as Wharton School of Business!

UNC Faculty Development Fellowship

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

This large, very well-established program trains physician scholars, leaders, and mentors. Each fellow completes a variety of projects during their year-long adventure.

University of Illinois Chicago, Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellowship

Chicago, Illinois

This very liberal, broadly structured year long fellowship allows physicians to explore any research interests.

UPMC St. Margaret Faculty Development Fellowship

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Earn your MPH through this one or two year program that develops administrative and teaching skills.

BU Academic Fellowship Program

Boston, Massachusetts

A year long program to develop leadership, teaching, and organizational skills.

MacNeal Faculty Development Fellowship

Berwyn, Illinois

A program for those family physicians interested in training residents in a community-based practice. MPH also available.

Master Teacher Fellowship in Medical Education

Malden, Massachusetts

A two-year Masters program with the opportunity to train in Scotland!

Harbor-ULCA Faculty Development Fellowship

Harbor City, California

Fellows can choose to focus on community health care, curriculum design, or health care delivery improvement.

Primary Care Faculty Development Fellowship

Columbia, Missouri

This is a well-established program that is open to internal and pediatrics residents as well. Fellows can choose to focus on Education or Research.

Academic Fellowship in Care for the Underserved

Glenview, Illinois

Work at the NorthShore Research Institute and earn your MPH.

Lawrence Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellowship

Lawrence, Massachusetts

After winning the 2012 Innovative Program Award, this program is on the rise! It focuses on service to underserved populations in Massachusetts.


For more information about each of the fellowships click here

*Page provided by Carina Brown*

Become a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians - it's free and easy!  Visit the AAFP website and sign up!