Amy, Salmon Arm

Quite simply, if there were a Doctor-Patient Relationship Olympics, my family doctor, Dr. Grant McCallum, would be bringing home another gold for Canada. My family physician is a dedicated, committed, and interested family physician. He has made a significant impact in my life, being the lead in a team that helps me maintain health excellence, in spite of multiple chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease, thyroid condition). He has given me confidence and inspired me to continue self-management of my health conditions, while monitoring, guiding, and supporting me. My doctor trusts me and therefore, I trust him. We work in tandem to address my challenges, and he insists that I not only seek improvement, but that I also celebrate my incremental, sometimes barely measurable successes. It is a careful balance a doctor must walk to hold patients like me accountable for progress, yet refrain from blame when, for example, a blood test returns imperfect, less-than-desired results. I always feel like my doctor reinforces my efforts and that he really does “get me.” Together, we push me for improvement, but I am never ashamed or embarrassed to review how I am doing. He is patient, compassionate, and good humoured, yes. But he is also comfortable with confronting me, making me think and pushing me in a direction of wellness.”

Lisa, Vancouver

I’ve been with the same family doctor for thirty years. I was a teenager when I started going to her, and she was a newly practicing doctor taking over a practice from her retiring physician father. I kind of feel that we’ve “grown up” together.

I would consider my health care needs simple and infrequent, yet she has seen me through the birth of all my children and a couple of illnesses where her rapid diagnosis and her concern ensured I got the very best care possible. Though my oldest children are now 17, she still has their baby pictures hanging on her waiting room wall, along with those of hundreds of other babies she’s delivered throughout her years in practice. She’s a sole practitioner, which isn’t very common these days I don’t think. So sometimes I have to be patient and wait for her to see me, if she’s been at the hospital delivering a baby or has had to fit in someone ahead of me for an urgent appointment. But it’s always been worthwhile. She knows my medical history and that of my extended family, since she’s also cared for my mother and my kids. She’s had the same office assistant for years too, and it’s nice when the person answering the phone knows me. And she has a great network of specialists she refers me to when needed. I really can’t imagine having to start over with someone new; it’s so much easier and less stressful to have a doctor who knows me well.

Barb, Sunshine Coast

I’ve been with my current doctor for 13 years and see him every six weeks or so because of chronic health issues. I value our relationship because he knows my extensive medical history and is familiar with my family history, not just my health history, which is helpful. I ask questions and he takes the time to answer them.

I really value not having to repeat my medical history every time I go to the office; it reduces stress. When my doctor is away and I have to see a clinic doctor, the alternate doctor is sometimes hesitant to prescribe drugs or treatments because s/he is not familiar with my history. Once or twice they’ve suggested that I return when my own doctor is available rather than treating me themselves. Because my doctor knows me so well and I see him consistently he is able to provide informative, clear and insightful notes about my health, my abilities, and my limitations to others, including non-medical professionals. My doctor is an excellent diagnostician and has a network of great doctors that he sends me to when a specialist’s knowledge and experience is needed.

My advice to others is to GET a family physician. See him/her regularly (at least annually), have all of your family members go to the same doctor if possible, so she/he gets a better picture of everyone’s health, and DO NOT be afraid to ask questions.

Doctors cannot read your mind and do not know what you know and don’t know about your health. No question is stupid and you must take responsibility for your health and work WITH your doctor to be as healthy and happy as possible. DON’T be afraid to ask questions and DON’T be afraid to hear the answers. Knowledge allows you to deal with things, ignorance only leads to trouble.

Polly, West Vancouver

My doctor knows me, my kids, and my community. I appreciate the fact that she’s about my age, lives in the same neighbourhood and understands the life of a single, working mom.

In the 17 or more years I’ve been seeing her, going to the doctor has never worried me. She has always been very pleasant and interested in my health and that of my children too. She knows and always remembers our family and health history. We’ve never had a serious issue, but I feel confident she could handle any situation. I also appreciate that she is tech savvy, and runs a wireless office. She researches health issues on her laptop and brings it to every appointment to share and document information. I definitely think I’m more aware of my health and what I need to do to maintain it because I have one doctor, instead of many.