5 Reasons You Need A Family Doctor . . . And What To Do Until You Get One

On March 14th, Global BC will be launching BC1, the province’s first all-news channel. Jill Krop will host her talk show AM B.C. weekdays at 9 am.

Here’s a clip of my interview with Jill.


Top 5 Reasons You Need a Family Doctor:
1. Having a regular family doctor improves health outcomes.
(This has been shown in the international research of Dr. Barbara Starfield and the Canadian studies by Marcus Hollander, that show improved patient outcomes, reduced mortality, decreased hospitalizations and reduced health care costs.)
2. Your family doctor takes the long-view: your lifetime – your history, your family history and your potential future.
3. Your family doctor provides holistic care, treating you (not just disease) in the context of your family, work and other important aspects of your life.
4. Your family doctor treats all your health conditions – acute & chronic, including your emotional  & relationship concerns.
5. The family doctor who knows you well may be the best physician to help you make personal health choices, sorting through information you’ve read on the internet, advice from friends and the opinions of other physicians.

What To Do Until You Find a Family Doctor (when seeing a doctor for episodic care at a walk-in clinic or in the ER):
1. Know your personal medical history (past illnesses, chronic conditions, family history, operations & allergies).
2. Keep a list of all your medications (prescription and non-prescription, including dosages).
3. For any treatment, investigation or prescription, ask three things:
(a) What is it for?
(b) What are the risks or side effects? (both the common and the serious)
(c) What are the alternatives?
4. Keep a record of all test results.
5. Ask this question, “Given my age and family history, what tests should I be doing?” (e.g. mammograms, pap smears, diabetes screening, prostate exams).


About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Empowering Healthcare, Healthy Living, patient-doctor relationship, Preventive Health and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to 5 Reasons You Need A Family Doctor . . . And What To Do Until You Get One

  1. George Goertzen says:

    Dear Dr. Wong, Good for you, you’re going to be a busy man with all your interests; however, you’ll also be much appreciated by your patients and your community. I’m a retired GP who also had an interest in Obstetrics. I delivered somewhere around 1600 babies, mostly at the old Grace Hospital. I agree it’s a very rewarding experience not only in actually doing the pre-natal care and delivery, but also caring for the children and the families of these children. God bless you. George Goertzen MD CCFP Associate Professor Emeritus UBC, Dept of FP.

    • Thank you, Dr. Goertzen! I find family practice a most gratifying calling. I was born in that old Grace Hospital, but I deliver babies in Burnaby. You’ve played an important role in the lives of many patients, their families and your community. Thank you for teaching as well. By teaching future physicians, you’ve made a positive difference to so many more. God bless you as well.

  2. Gerry R says:

    Are you currently accepting new Patients? like many, I would love to have a local family doctor, but there are simply none accepting patients in my area.

  3. Roberta says:

    Dear Dr. Wong,

    Thank you for this helpful article and for bringing the “need” for GP’s to light. Surprisingly I found myself in the situation where my GP was retiring after almost 30 years of being our doctor. She had seen me through my teenage years, my marriage, my divorce, my motherhood, my job changes, my new relationship and much more. I had never had any real health challenges (thankfully) and anything that came up was treated quickly, with full family background in hand and with the kindness resulting from a long standing relationship. So as I now enter the 40plus years of my life I am now faced with trying to find a GP. While I search endlessly through the list on the College website I encounter “we are not accepting new patients” or “we don’t bill to MSP so you must pay upfront for appointments”. Now I am lucky in that I have a good job that allows me coverage but I don’t have a salary that affords me the cost of visiting a doctor or paying all the MSP paid costs up front. So I keep searching and as I do I find that I am also awaiting a test on an “undetermined” lump that will hopefully be just another blip in my health radar. I find it all very stressful to realize I will have no one to send and discuss my results with when the test is done in a few weeks. I have no idea where else to look as recommendations from friends have resulted in no leads and my doctor’s practice is simply not interested in helping patients find a solution. Do you have any additional ideas how in this giant city of millions of inhabitants I can find a GP accepting new patients? I don’t begrudge my doctor her retirement as I feel it is well deserved, I just wish there was more thought given to the patients who are simply left with less than a month’s notice to try and find someone who will take them as a patient. All i have heard is that more doctors are specializing rather than becoming General Practioners.

    • Dear Roberta,

      I am optimistic that the difficulty finding a GP in B.C. will improve over the next 6 to 12 months. Through the combined efforts of the Ministry of Health and the BCMA, new initiatives should improve access for all patients in the province.

      They are working with the Divisions of Family Practice in each community. The Divisions are non-profit organizations composed of the family physicians who serve each community, and part of their mandate is to improve access and quality of care for all people in their communities. The White Rock Division of Family Practice, for example, has been very successful over the past year in bringing in new GPs and improving access.

      Our Burnaby Division is actively working on new programs to provide care to those in the community who do not yet have a GP. My clinic will be bringing in a bright, new family doctor in August, and he will definitely be accepting new patients.

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