Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Healthy Living Positive Change Positive Potential Preventive Health

Give a Gift to Your Future Self

In the Prepandemic era, the weeks following the holidays were once the time to buy for yourself the gifts you didn’t get. These were usually material things that we wanted at the time. 

I’d like you to think about one special person very close to you that you may have forgotten during the holidays: your future self.

We all tend to make decisions each day from the perspective of our present desires and short term goals. Too often we neglect our future selves.

We also don’t realize how different our lives and values will be in the future. If you’re a grown up, you know you are not the same person you were 15 years ago. How have your relationships, goals and sense of self changed over the years?

At the same time, we underestimate our capacity to change in the future. 

Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, calls this “The End of History” illusion. He says, “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished.”

People with a fixed mindset, as defined by Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, are defined by who they are at the present moment. They are “trapped in the tyranny of now” and this influences the stories they tell themselves and how they deal with negative events and failure. 

With a fixed mindset, when we fail in any of life’s challenges, such as passing a test, getting a promotion or learning a new skill, we attribute failure to personal qualities that we assume will never change. We might label ourselves as dumb, not good at math or just not good enough. It can make us give up.

The opposite is the growth mindset with which we see ourselves as always in a state of growing, learning and becoming. With this perspective, we learn and grow from setbacks. 

If you want to be happier today and in the future, look at yourself and others with this growth mindset. In spite of the pandemic, the bad behaviour of some and the terrible events in the news, we can hope and work today for a better future. Our society will continue to grow and evolve, and we collectively have the ability to create that better future.

Lets begin today, with own our future selves. In what ways do you steal from your future self for expedience or gratification today? Making bad food or substance choices? Sitting alone in front of the TV or computer instead of calling up a good friend or going for a walk?

On the other hand, in what ways do you invest in your future self with positive, life-affirming and prosocial actions? 

Think about the kind of person you would like to be a year or five years from now: healthier and happier with more satisfying relationships. 

How will you invest your time, attention and energy today to be that person? In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear says that every action today is a vote for the person you want to become. 

I’ll be giving a free online talk on The Keys to Positive Change at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. As part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education program, I’ll share practical tips for improving your wellbeing and making positive changes that last. These are the secrets that my patients and I have successfully used to transform new habits into healthy routines that stick. 

For more information, please check  over the next few weeks or email Leona Cullen at

Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Positive Change Positive Potential Preventive Health

The Keys to Positive Change: Transforming Our Bad Habits Into Healthy Ones

I’m giving a free online presentation on The Keys to Positive Change: Transforming Our Bad Habits Into Healthy Ones.Please share this with anyone who may benefit. 

7 pm Tuesday, January 19th, 2021


Burnaby Division of Family Practice COVID 19 Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Relationships Your Goals

A New Resolve for Pandemic Resolutions

If you like I made New Year’s Resolutions for 2020, you had the best excuse for not keeping them up beyond March.

The pandemic – and the never-ending upheavals to even our healthiest routines – sabotaged most of our plans, rearranged our goals and robbed us of many of the joys of daily life.

At this time, in any other year, I would sit down with my wife and children to review the old calendar. I would invariably be surprised with what has happened in the span of just one year. The media recapitulates the big world events with retrospective spins, but what matters most to you and me are our personal experiences.

This year was totally different.

We missed out on celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other events that would normally bring us together; time spent with family and friends; plays and musicals seen with my wife – all cancelled indefinitely due to the necessary restrictions of the pandemic.

Before moving on to a New Year, we would ask, “What are we most grateful for?”

In contrast to the disruptions to our lives, the terrible impact on the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of so many of us, and the lives lost during this world-wide health crisis, there were redeeming actions taken by many for which I am grateful.

So many individuals and organizations, recognizing those who have been most impacted by the pandemic and the necessary public health restrictions, worked individually and collectively to reduce those burdens.

If you have reached out to a neighbour, an elderly family member or families struggling with social isolation and the financial burden of the pandemic, I thank you.

With few exceptions, we have seen a wellspring of kindness to lift one another up. We have worked as individuals and as a community to protect and support the most vulnerable.

I appreciate the wonderful, kind actions of others; my gracious patients who continue to entrust me with their care, adapting to the new ways of connecting; my colleagues who support me in our shared calling; the many good people I have worked with to improve the health of our community; my friends, and my family.

As individuals and as a community, we have to recognize what we have endured and survived. Now more than ever, I reflect on these questions. How have we been helped? How have we helped others? What have we learned? How have we grown? The answers are measures of a year and of our lives.

In spite of the shifting sands of this past year, we have learned much. The general public now knows more than they ever did about infectious diseases, the novel coronavirus, physical distancing, the value of wearing masks and hand hygiene.

Most of us learned to use Zoom and other online video platforms for the first time.

We’ve also discovered the impact of acting collectively for the wellbeing of all.

And more than ever, we recognize what really is important in our lives. Of course, we miss vacations, parties, dinners, hanging out with friends, and going to school or work the old fashion ways.

More profoundly, we missed our physical and social connections with one another. This really is what life is all about.

Entering each New Year, we reflect on what we will do differently. Within the guidelines of public health, what activities should we do more of? What should we reduce? What should we cut out all together? What can we create?

We know we cannot predict what 2021 will bring us. We have to accept those things beyond control, but given our strengthened recognition of what we value most, where will we devote our time, energy and attention?

What positive actions can we each take to regain a sense of wellbeing and connection to the people in our lives? What can we do together? What can we do for others?

The pandemic has reminded us that life, relationships and each moment are precious.

This year, I’ll be continuing my work with the Burnaby Division of Family Practice in our free public health lectures (now being presented virtually during the pandemic).

I’ll be giving a free online talk on The Keys to Positive Change at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. As part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education program, I’ll share practical tips for improving your wellbeing and making positive changes that last. These are the secrets that my patients and I have successfully used to transform new habits into healthy routines that stick. 

For more information, please check this website over the next few weeks or  or email Leona Cullen at (Please be patient while the Division works on providing the link to my online talk. I’ll update this site as soon as it becomes available).

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at

Emotions Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Healthy Living

Maintaining Your Health During the Pandemic

In February, when celebrating her 100th birthday with her family, my patient, Helen (not her real name) continued to thrive while managing her chronic health conditions. 

The pandemic changed all that.

She wasn’t infected with COVID-19. Her assisted living facility made every effort to protect its residents. However, this meant an end to all social activities . . . and visitors.

By June, I learned of Helen’s profound functional decline. She had lost weight, fell frequently and was no longer able to stand on her own. Her daughter, an experienced nurse recognized that she was in a potentially irreversible decline.

Once we were able to get approval for weekly visits from her daughter (in full PPE to protect Helen and others at the facility), Helen progressively regained her strength and quality of life.

The pandemic has affected every one of us, but in addition to those infected with COVID-19 and their families, those suffering from social isolation have been the most vulnerable.

We are at a crucial crossroads in this pandemic. With the daily rise in new infections, we each have to double down on our efforts to reduce the spread. We can’t wait for the majority of Canadians to be vaccinated. Many more will become sick and die in the coming months.

Continue to keep your distance, wear a mask when you can’t, keep your hands clean and ask yourself whenever you leave your home, if you really need to. Is it worth the risk to yourself and your family?

In the meantime, we must work together to maintain our physical, social and emotional wellbeing. We can’t do this alone. 

Your family physician’s clinic is still open – at least to calls. Don’t neglect chronic conditions and proactive healthcare. Labs and x-ray clinics are also still open. We’ve all made changes to provide the care you need while reducing your infection risks. 

If you haven’t had your flu shot yet and your local pharmacy or family practice clinic has run out, Burnaby residents can book an appointment with

Stay connected to your family and friends with frequent calls or video chats. Reach out to those who are living alone and ask what you could do to help. 

If you are feeling stressed, frustrated, anxious and even depressed, you are not alone. You are not alone in how you are feeling, and there is help in our community for you. 

Every community has organized supports for those struggling socially, emotionally and financially. In Burnaby, we’re all working together through the Primary Care Network. Check the resources that are available at

On Thursday, December 10th, I’ll be giving a free online talk on behalf of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients program. The topic: Emotional Wellness. I’ll be sharing key emotional health skills that we all need to manage the effects of this pandemic and community resources for help. For more information:

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician.

Burnaby Division of Family Practice COVID 19 Empowering Healthcare

The Good and Bad of Masks and Gloves

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, masks and gloves were donned by my favourite heroes: Batman, Robin and the Lone Ranger. (I’ll include the Green Hornet and Kaito for fans of 60s TV and Bruce Lee.)

Like every other boy, I imagined being a hero, but I never imagined that one day, there would be a pandemic and a surgical mask and rubber gloves would be part of my everyday garb.

Dr Wong as Captain America in PPE

Over the past two months, how we perceive masks and gloves has changed week by week. One thing remains. In healthcare, scrupulous hand washing, surgical masks and gloves were primarily for protecting others (our patients) more than our selves.

For everyone who is not a healthcare provider, masks and gloves – only when used appropriately – do provide protection to others and to some extent the wearer.

BC has managed to flatten the curve (the spread of COVID-19 infections) better than the majority of other countries and provinces due to the sage advice of our leaders, including Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, to 1. maintain physical distancing of 2 meters (or approximately 6 ft) from others and 2. wash our hands.

As other provinces and states around the world have slowly relaxed physical distancing rules to reopen businesses and other public places, we’ve already seen the second wave of new COVID-19 infections including Germany, South Korea and the US.

We too are at a heightened risk for the second wave if we as individuals and families forget about those two key practices: keeping our distance and washing our hands.

Emerging studies suggest that in those places where everyone wears some type of mask – including simple cloth masks – there is a further reduction in the spread of infection. A prime example is Japan, where cloth masks were worn by everyone in public from the start of the pandemic.

Two months ago, the average person who wore a mask out of the home was perceived as overly anxious. Now that person is seen as sensible.

Moreover, knowing that anyone with an early COVID-19 infection can infect others before they have symptoms, when I see someone with a mask, I recognize that they are protecting others.

We know that COVID-19 is primarily spread by contaminated respiratory droplets released from the nose or mouth when we talk, breathe, sneeze or cough. Physical distancing works because those droplets quickly fall to the ground usually within those magic 3 meters (or approximately 6 feet).

We’ve also told the public that if they do cough or sneeze, either do it like a doctor (into the sleeve over the inside of your elbow) or use a tissue and wash your hands right away.

If someone with a cold, flu or COVID-19 contaminates their hands by coughing, sneezing or touching their mouth, nose or hands, they can contaminate inanimate objects such as elevator buttons, door handles and railings.

When others pick up those respiratory droplets on their hands and subsequently touch their eyes, nose or mouth before washing their hands, they too may become infected.

Face masks also provide a limited measure of protection by the wearer as a barrier to respiratory droplets that would strike our face if we are less than 2 meters from another person. Remember that physical distancing remains your first measure of defence.

Beware the Pitfalls of Masks

  1. They can provide a false sense of security if you ignore keeping your distance.
  2. They pose a greater risk if you frequently touch your mask and eyes.
  3. The outside of the mask may be contaminated if you are too close to others. You must avoid touching the outside of the mask and if you do, wash your hands right away.
  4. Even if your mouth and nose are protected by a barrier, if you are too close to others, your eyes remain unprotected from respiratory droplets. Keep your distance and consider wearing eye protection – sunglasses outdoors, prescription glasses or inexpensive plastic safety glasses from the hardware store.
  5. Kids under two or others with difficulty breathing or who cannot remove a mask by themselves should not wear one.
  6. N95 masks are not needed by people in public places. Please note that the tightly fit, uncomfortable N95s worn by healthcare providers for certain procedures do NOT have valves.

Masks with one-way valves only protect the wearer. A person with COVID-19, a cold or influenza – who wears an N95 with a valve – can still infect others. Keep your distance from others wearing valved masks.

Three Things You Need to Know about Gloves

  1. Gloves provide a false sense of security and are not a substitute for hand hygiene. The cashier handling contaminated objects and cards can transfer respiratory droplets to your card if those gloves aren’t changed or thoroughly cleaned between customers.
  2. If you are wearing gloves, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth – or phone -before taking them off and washing your hands.
  3. Put used gloves and soiled disposable masks in the trash. Don’t toss them on the ground.

Masks and gloves are the new supernormal of pandemic life.

Though I sometimes have to gown up, I’m grateful that I don’t need to don a cape. As we saw in The Incredibles, capes are just plain dangerous. But you never know, the pandemic is still young and when we run out of gowns, healthcare providers may need to resort to capes and I’ll have to check out the closet of my old bedroom at Dad’s house.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. He was the founding chair and lead physician of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice and continues to serve on the board. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on surviving and thriving during the pandemic, read his blog at

Burnaby Division of Family Practice Compassion Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Growth Love Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose Relationships Self-care Wisdom Your Calling

Your Positive Potential: Notes from my keynote for Inspiration Day


Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 was Inspiration Day at Century House in New Westminster. Gracious members of the audience requested my speaking notes. Here they are.

I began with a brief introduction to my Empowering Patients public education program sponsored by the Burnaby Division of Family Practice. The purpose of my series of workshops, videos, posters and key points handouts is to provide everyone in our community with unbiased health and wellness information essential to live healthy, happy lives.

With respect to the things within your control, the best predictor of your future health are the habits you practice today.

Real healthcare is self-care as it is individuals – not professional healthcare providers – who provide over 90% of their healthcare.

The four foundations of self-care are: 1. what you eat (what you put into your body); 2. what you do (physical activity and rest); 3. how you feel (emotional wellbeing), and 4. how you connect (healthy relationships).

These are all key topics of my Empowering Patients talks. The slides and handouts are available in addition to videos on the public website for the Burnaby Division of Family Practice.

Upcoming 2020 Health Talks

Everyone is welcome to attend these no-cost talks, however registration is required as space is limited.

March 12, 7:00 – 8:30 PM – ‘Emotional Wellness’
Brentwood Community Resource Centre, 2055 Rosser Avenue, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.

March 31, 7:00 – 8:30 PM‘The Positive Potential of our Relationships’
Bonsor Recreation Complex, 6550 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.

April 8, 7:00 – 8:30 PM ‘Healthy Eating’
McGill Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.

May 14, 6:00 – 6:45 PM – ‘Healthy Physical Activity’ & Walk With Your Doc
Confederation Seniors Centre (4585 Albert Street, Burnaby)
CLICK HERE to register.

For more information, check out all Empowering Patients materials.


How we tell our stories affects how how we experience our lives.


The helplessness of the victim can feed anxiety.

If we can’t let go of anger, what we hold continues to harm us.

Remembering only loss and surrendering to hopelessness begets depression

With an attitude of entitlement, you will never be satisfied.

THE DEFAULT MODE NETWORK is the brain on autopilot creating stories. This typically happens when we are daydreaming, neither focussed on a specific task nor meditating. We can adopt unquestioned assumptions and core beliefs – many of them limiting beliefs, such as: “I have to be perfect to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone.” “Life is unfair.” “I’m not good enough.” “I don’t deserve success, happiness or love.” “I am powerless.”

COGNITIVE BIASES are unconscious cognitive shortcuts with which we misinterpret reality. One such bias is the negativity bias. We notice more of what is wrong than what is right – with our partners, our situation and ourselves. To counter the negativity bias, we need to see (and hear) FIVE positives for every negative. This is a key principle for maintaining positivity in your most significant relationships and in creating a happy home for our children.

Actively see the positive in your life by the daily practice of gratitude. I start each day – before I even get out of bed, with a prayer of thankfulness for all the blessings in my life, beginning with the person lying next to me: my wife. This attitude primes the pump for noticing the positive aspects of all that I will see throughout the day. By days end, when I will reflect on the day with another prayer of thankfulness, my cup is overflowing.

I teach quality improvement to my physician colleagues to improve patient safety and health outcomes. When problems arise, we do a root cause analysis. This might include using the Five Whys. Ask at least 5 whys to get beyond the proximate or superficial causes of problems to get to the root cause.

I applied the Five Whys to every problem I could think of and found a single root cause for every problem in the world: a false sense of self.

We live with the illusion of separateness . . . and a life of competition.

There is the illusion of the Other . . . that engenders prejudice based on colour, gender, age, body shape, clothing, faith, language, accents and customs. The other may appear strange, different, less than, threatening or dangerous.

We went through an exercise in compassion to dissolve this false separation. I asked audience members to look at a person directly across the table from them. They were to look into each other’s eyes – not speak – but rather listen to these words. This person was once a baby, loves and held in the arms of parents . . .  just like you.

This person was once a child who laughed and cried, with big hopes and dreams . . . just like you.

This person has felt alone and sad, heartbroken and disappointed . . . just like you.

This person just wants to be happy . . . just like you.

This person needs to be loved . . . just like you.

The inescapable truth: you are not a separate, independent individual. You are a global citizen interdependent with every other person on this planet. Your wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of others.

We are all a part of a greater whole, members of a family, supported by a network of friends, neighbours and peers.

We are part of a community, citizens of this country and members of humankind, connected to all living things, a part of nature and this planet.

This is your true identity.

You belong here.

Another exercise to foster unconditional love. Imagine in front of you, one whom you love naturally and easily. Someone who always brings warmth to your heart and a smile to your face.

Say these words to them: May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.

Now imagine someone you have had a disagreement with in the past week.

And say those same words: May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.

The big problems of our society and the world will never be solved by people looking out for themselves. When we realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth.

It begins with us.

Together let us be the change we wish to see.

What is your story?

Engaging with Life and Coping with Change

The reality of change. Change is the nature of all things. It is our very nature. It is futile to pursue and cling to that which does not last. Nothing lasts.

We must appreciate what we have when we have it.

Every gift is not ours to hold forever. We must love and appreciate others while we can and let go when we need to. Accept what you cannot change. Accept responsibility to change what you can.

Be an Agent of Positive Change

Be dynamically response to change. Seek out the positive potential of each moment. Be responsive not reactive.

The Science of Neuroplasticity

Though our habits of thought and behaviour seem hardwired, with effort and repetition, we can transform our own minds. Donald Hebb, Canadian neuropsychologist said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” this is how we can adapt to our changing world. You can retell your life story . . . and see beyond the illusion of a separate smaller self.

Evolving into Our Positive Potential

Discovering your potential in life. Your calling is the intersection of four circles: your passions, your talents, your values and the needs of the world.

Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” When you listen to life and rise up to meet the challenge, you will find meaning and purpose.

Heed the call which may change at different stages of your life. There is a potivie potential to be realized in each day. We must see, feel and act.

We are all a part of the Love Cycle. In our lives, we receive love in many forms. We give it forward. The giving of love does not diminish us but connects us and makes us stronger.

At the end of each day . . . and at the end of this life, you don’t want to regret having not given enough or loved enough. The greatest tragedy in life is that we may die not knowing how much we were loved.

Life is lived fully by loving without limit, giving all you’ve got and holding nothing back.

We are all human and imperfect but still deserving of love, beautiful and able to love.

You ARE good enough.

You ARE worthy of love.

You DESERVE to be happy.

You are BEAUTIFUL just as you are.

You belong here.

We are all interconnected in the Cycle of Love. When we realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth.

It begins with us.

We are part of a greater whole.

We are all Agents of Positive Change.

You are greater than you think. We can make a difference.

Together let us be the change we wish to see.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer. 

Tapestry Talk

Burnaby Division of Family Practice Emotions Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Healthy Living patient-doctor relationship Physical Activity Positive Change Positive Potential Preventive Health Screening Tests Self-care stress management

Free Public Health Talks for 2020: The Empowering Patients Program

Tapestry Talk

The Empowering Patients Free Public Talks for 2020

with Dr. Davidicus Wong


  • Monday, February 3rd, 2020 The Keys to Positive Change
    • Tommy Douglas Library in the Edmonds neighbourhood


  • Monday, February 24th, 2020  The Patient-Doctor Relationship
    • Bob Prittie Library in Metrotown


  • Thursday, March 12th, 2020  Emotional Wellbeing
    • Brentwood Community Resource Centre, 2055 Rosser Avenue


  • Wednesday, April 8th, 2020  Healthy Eating
    • McGill Library in North Burnaby)


  • To be scheduled: Healthy Relationships and Healthy Physical Activity


To register online or call (604) 259 4450

For more information about our Empowering Patients Public Health Education Program, please see the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s website or Dr Davidicus Wong’s website


Empowering Healthcare Friendship Happiness Healthy Living Positive Change Preventive Health Relationships Self-care Your Goals

The Fast Choice is Rarely the Healthy Choice – for Your Relationships, Emotions and Body

As an intern in my twenties coming off a night of call with the weight of the hospital off my shoulders, I would crave for a hashbrown and Sausage McMuffin on my way home to sleep. Though my hunger was soon satisfied, I eventually recognized I wasn’t renewed by fast food and a quick nap.

We all know that fast food (processed, sugary, fried, fatty or salty) makes for poor fuel and nutrition. If we hold off the urge for a quick fix, we can let the craving pass and make a healthier choice.

The same holds for the other quick and convenient fixes that have become the habits and norms of daily life. Consider the “fast foods” of our friendships, activities, emotional needs and rest.

The Need for Real Friendships

A hundred Facebook friends or Instagram followers cannot replace a handful of good friends. You can have a long list of associates but most of us need just a few true blue friends for life.

Like fast food, fast friends may be interesting and fun, but they don’t provide the long term support and love we need over a lifetime. Your real friends are there when you need them, providing unconditional care.

They tell you what you need to hear – even if it’s not what you want to know. They see and bring out the best in you. Connecting through social media is no substitute for calling and meeting up with a best friend.

The Need for Meaningful Activity

Boredom can be quenched online. Binging on Netflix, watching endless YouTube videos and playing Candy Crush can fill the void with distraction. They consume attention and time but ultimately leave us wanting more.

Boredom signals for a need for challenge and meaning. Our brains were built to learn and our spirits crave for meaningful challenges. Satisfy your mind with new places and experiences. Enjoy the stimulation of a really good book.

The Need for Rest and Recreation

All work and no play make Jack and Jill burnt out.

We all need balance in our activities.

The internet is saturated with attention and time vampires. Another evening check of your phone or pad can lead to a late night. A Starbucks coffee or Tim’s double double are no substitutes for a good night’s sleep.

During a day of work or study, a change of pace with a walk, meditation or music can refresh you better than a shot of caffeine or nicotine. I’ve found that a quick lunchtime swim can energize a busy afternoon in the clinic.

The Need for Peace and Happiness

When you’re feeling down and distressed, what do you reach for?

It may be easiest to scroll through social media or play Candy Crush, vape, drink, smoke or get a dose of another favourite chemical. Again we may turn to our usual comfort foods.

Though these quick fixes may help us feel better for the moment, the effects are transient. None provide the lasting happiness or peace we really need.

Shopping in person and online may provide instant gratification but they ultimately leave us feeling empty. The joy of a new purchase never lasts.

What we ultimately need is meaningful activity and relationships. Take the time to reflect on where you devote your precious time and attention. Don’t settle for a quick fix.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His articles appear in the Vancouver Courier, The Westside Post and Richmond News.

Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare empowering patients patient-doctor relationship

The Patient-Doctor Relationship in Family Practice

EP pt-dr relationship poster

In the office of my family practice, hidden from the view of patients, is a sign along the edge of the counter for my staff to see each day. “Treat every patient like family.”

It’s at the heart of our daily work: to give every individual the care and consideration we would want for a best friend or family member.

If you’re seeing unfamiliar healthcare providers and worry that they may have rushed to the wrong diagnosis, ask two questions. What else could it be? What’s the worse thing it could be?

This may open clinical minds prematurely closed with the pressure of time.

If you’re not sure about the management of your concern, ask, “What would you recommend to your mother (brother or child)?”

This might remind the healthcare provider what should be obvious – that you are a precious individual – someone else’s best friend and loved one.

I remember the moment I knew I wanted to be a doctor.

I was in grade 6 and hospitalized for a painful flare up of rheumatoid arthritis. On the pediatric ward of Burnaby Hospital, I felt that the caring nurses and doctors were treating me as a whole person and not just my condition, and I knew I wanted to do this work when I grew up.

The doctors seemed to have the easier job and it seemed that everything the doctors ever told me I had already read about in my family’s medical encyclopedia. That’s how I chose medicine.

I chose family practice though I considered paediatrics, obstetrics and psychiatry.

Family practice is a unique specialty. We don’t treat particular diseases or organ systems for a limited period of time. Rather we treat the whole person over many years. The family doctor sees the medical condition only in the context of the rest of the individual’s life including their important relationships.

I expected it to be a more satisfying calling, nurturing my relationship with each patient over time while working together in attending to that individual’s wellbeing. Guiding and advocating for my patients through health, illness, the ups and downs of their personal lives, we earn trust and confidence over many years.

I spend many hours each week counselling my patients through the challenging times in their lives. My clinic and sleep schedules are still interrupted by the delivery of babies. It is gratifying guiding patients I have known for years through the most exciting times in their lives: pregnancy, childbirth and the adventure of parenthood.

Family doctors specialize in the care of you, the whole person in the context of your life and relationships over a lifetime.

At 7 pm on Monday, April 29th, I’ll be presenting, “The Patient-Doctor Relationship: Getting the Most Out of Every Visit” at the Bob Prittie (Edmonds) Branch of the Burnaby Public Library. This free talk is part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education series. I’ll discuss tips on how to work with your doctor to achieve your goals, the key information you need to know about every prescription, test and treatment, what you should know about your medical history, and the key screening tests adults should have at different ages. As space is limited, please register online, at any BPL information desk or by phoning 604-436-5400.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in life, read his blog at

Burnaby Division of Family Practice Compassion Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Friendship Healthy Living Relationships

The Root Cause of the Problems of the World: A Limited Sense of Self

Tapestry Talk

What might be the root cause of the great problems of the world: poverty, homelessness, crime, violence, war, racism, discrimination, hunger and global climate change?

I contend that it is a case of mistaken identity: a false sense of self.

We each see ourselves as separate individuals – single selves distinct from other human beings, our neighbours, nature and the world. And with this illusion, we seek first what is best for our selves.

Even in our most significant relationships, discord arises with our differing views and competing needs; love and good will can be displaced by anger and resentment.

From the vantage of our separate selves, we create the illusion of the Other.

We can judge others in an instant, emphasizing differences (gender, age, body shape, colour, ethnicity and accent) with which we categorize them into groups of others.

They are then seen as competitors, enemies or threats whom we regard with fear, anger and hatred. Often we simply ignore them and treat their unmet needs and rights with apathy.

These attitudes widen the gulf between us and ultimately contribute to the problems of the world.

How can we close this gap and create a more cohesive community?

  1. We must first recognize that every human being has a personal story but also the same fundamental needs as you. We all need food, clothing, freedom, education, safe housing, meaningful activity and a sense of belonging.

We each share the same range of emotions. We all have our dreams and goals. We have all experienced disappointment, loss and heartache. We all want to be happy.

Only by seeing beyond our personal prejudices and recognizing the three-dimensional human being behind outward appearances can we foster empathy and care.

  1. We must recognize our shared connection and interdependency. None of us can survive without others. We take for granted public education, healthcare, safe streets and neighbourhoods. These are the products of the ongoing planning and work of countless individuals working for the greater good. Consider all the people who have contributed to you having food on your table – from farms to processing plants to warehouses and to stores.
  2. We must identify our shared challenges and not blame others as the enemy or the scapegoat. The problems in our community, including homelessness, hunger, injustice and crime, can only be solved with our collective creativity and collaboration.
  3. We can then begin building and strengthening our personal and social connections. This requires the support of our institutions, including our government, but it begins with each of us.

Where is the need? Who among us feels alone and needs help? What can we do together?

What is a stranger? Someone you don’t yet know.

When you are irritated by the lineups and crowds in the shopping mall or the traffic on our roads, ask yourself “What is a crowd?” and “What is traffic?” Lots of people just like you. You are part of the crowd and traffic.

When you ask “What is the world coming to?”, ask “What is the world?” You are. We are the world.

You are not just an individual. You are an integral part of a greater whole – a partnership and a family, a network of friends and a community, a part of humanity, nature and the world.

On Thursday, December 6th, 2018, I’ll be giving a free talk at the Bonsor Recreation Centre in Burnaby from 7 to 8:30 pm. The topic: The Positive Potential of Your Relationships. I’ll discuss how healthy relationship and social connections are essential to your happiness and wellbeing; the qualities of healthy relationships; recognizing and managing challenges, and how we can foster a greater sense of belonging and connectedness in our community. It’s part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients health education program. To register, email Leona at lcullen@divisionsbc.caor call (604) 259-4450.