A family physician in Canada is a doctor that provides medical assessment and treatment for individuals, and families, regardless of their age or gender. These medical professionals are font referred to as “general practitioners”.
These are the medical professionals that a person sees regularly when they are ill, need a vaccine, or need a check-up. People develop great amounts of trust in these doctors and they value their opinions highly.
Does Canada Have a Shortage of Family Physicians?
There has been a lot of talk about Canada having a shortage of medical personnel. This talk does have some basis in facts, but it is not entirely accurate.
There has been a decline in the number of medical school graduates, especially in the number of graduates that are choosing family practice over other specialties. The recent pandemic made matters worse by creating burnout and a lack of sufficient resources to practice medicine properly.
This happened all over the world, not just in Canada. The shortage was being felt in all aspects of medicine. There were fewer doctors, nurses, CHA, nurse practitioners, dentists, ophthalmologist, and more.
In 2020 Canada saw their lowest numbers of qualified physicians and individuals with medical expertise. According to CIHI by December 2021 the impact that Covid-19 had on the healthcare system in Canada was starting to improve.
While the first part of the pandemic saw the number of doctors drop as much as 40% by the third wave of the health crisis the number of doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers was rebounding quickly, and almost back to the pre-pandemic levels.
The CIHI also reported that among medical personnel affected by Covid-19 surgeons were affected more than primary care doctors or even nurses.
Virtual Appointments in Healthcare
One of the things being touted as a saving grace for medical professionals is the implementation of virtual healthcare in the country.
Virtual healthcare allows patients to see their doctors over their internet-connected devices and avoid going into an office or clinic and possibly being exposed to Covid-19.
These virtual visits helped both the healthcare providers and the patients by protecting them from unnecessary exposure.
Fewer female doctors are practicing in this field of medicine. The CIHI reports that less than half of the family physicians in the country of Canada are female. This is not unique to Canada, because across the world there are fewer female physicians than there are males. This is often said to be the result of girls in school not being encouraged to study the sciences like boys are.
Although there are fewer female doctors in Canada studies show that since 1978 the number of female physicians in the country has been steadily increasing each year.
Educational Requirements to be Certified in Family Medicine in Canada
A lot of people have the misguided assumption that a physician working in this capacity does not have any specialized training. This is far from the truth.
To be certified to work in the medical field a graduate from medical school must take a certification examination to assure that they have the necessary skills and competence required to do this job. The graduates are not eligible to take the certification exam until they have completed 2 years of post-graduate studies.
These studies provide them with hands-on experiences in a variety of fields that they may encounter in their chosen profession. The skills they develop are in:
- Emergency medicine
- General surgery
- Internal medicine
Services these Providers Offer
The GP in Canada is a crucial part of the individual’s health care. These professionals manage the general health of the individual, diagnose possible problems, and refer their patients to more specialized physicians when the need arises.
The typical services of a GP include, but are not limited to:
- seeing patients in offices for common complaints like colds, fever, the flu, etc.
- seeing patients in nursing homes
- seeing patients in hospitals and clinics
- vaccinating patients
- seeing patients in their homes when the need arises
- providing maternity care for expectant mothers
- treating mental health concerns
- treating addiction
- palliative care
- treat chronic conditions like diabetes
- provide initial treatment assessments and refer patients as needed
Can You Choose Your Own Medical Provider in Canada?
Canada has government-sponsored health insurance coverage. The choice of which physician will tend to your health concerns is up to the individual.
This type of health care eliminates many people who fall through the cracks of medical care in countries that do not have a government-mandated health care system. In Canada pre-existing conditions, and the ability to pay is not given the same consideration because every person is eligible for health care services.
Choosing your doctor allows people to take even better care of themselves because they are using a medical facilitator that they have confidence in.
How to Find a Family Doctor You Can Trust
Finding the best doctor to treat you for the majority of your medical needs is very important. You want someone who is near your home, someone that is friendly, and someone who is a good doctor.
One of the top ways people choose their GP is by asking their friends and family for references. Most people are quick to trust a doctor that their friends or family recommends.
Other ways to find the right doctor for you include:
- you can register with Health Care Connect.
- Use Advanced Doctor Search
- Contact the nearest hospital and ask if they have a family care department
- Call the refugee hotline
There are many available options to help you find the right doctor and health services for your needs and expectations.
Canada gives each resident a personal health number. They allow each resident to choose their healthcare provider and the residents of Canada have good levels of continued healthcare, especially for the less fortunate who have lower annual incomes, or chronic health conditions. There are a vast number of care providers waiting to register you as one of their regular patients.