“He listens without judgement. She takes the time to know her patients. I leave her office feeling better. He encourages the patient to help themselves.”
When the BC College of Family Physicians put out the call for our 2018 My Family Doctor Awards, more than 300 people sent in nominations. Patients from across the province told us powerful stories about their own personal experiences with some of BC’s exceptional family doctors. It has been a true privilege to review the nominations, as they highlight the compassion of the profession, the partnership in care, and the real appreciation that patients feel for their family doctors.
I am filled with pride when I read about the difference that my colleagues make in the lives of patients and their families. I read about the Vancouver family doctor who cares for the health needs of four generations of one family and serves as a role model to young women. I read about the recently retired family doctor in rural Hazelton who incorporated the traditions of the local First Nations community into the care he provided to his patients. I read about the family doctor in Nanaimo who advocated tirelessly for his patient through the lengthy and frustrating process of diagnosing her rare disease. These stories inspire me to do better in my own practice.
Family physicians in British Columbia go above and beyond every day. On May 19, our province will celebrate the first BC Family Doctor Day, honouring the work of more than 6,500 family doctors who practise across the province.
The stories that we received highlighted the broad scope of family medicine – with physicians providing care in a variety of settings – the birthing suite, the speciality clinic, the emergency room, the hospital, the nursing home, the hospice, and the traditional doctor’s office.
Patients appreciated and acknowledged the variety of roles their physician played – the clinical expert, the advocate, the preceptor, the counsellor, the leader. The resonating message, regardless of where or how the care took place, was the importance of the relationship that was developed between the physician and the patients. This is what makes family medicine unique and sets our specialty apart. In our practices, family doctors get to know our patients and their families, and this ongoing connection is critical when it comes to supporting patients to meet their health needs over time.
As we celebrate BC Family Doctor Day, it’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room – the shortage of family doctors. We know that not all British Columbians who want a family doctor are able to find one. This is a complex issue, and there is not a simple solution.
It is important to note that that organizations like the BC College of Family Physicians, Doctors of BC and the provincial government are working hard to find solutions.
We believe that the work being done to support the Patient’s Medical Home and primary care network vision for family medicine in BC will pay off. Having family doctors working within health care teams to offer comprehensive, coordinated care for patients will go a long way to provide more patients with access to a family doctor.
Every year, the BCCFP honours exceptional family doctors who are nominated for awards by their patients or peers. This year, we have a unique opportunity to recognize all of BC’s family doctors on one day. If you see your own family doctor this week, please wish them happy family doctor day for Saturday, May 19.
Dr. Jeanette Boyd