There has been lamentation of late over the perceived ‘death of the family practice’ in Canada.
It would appear that specializing in general and/or family practice just isn’t very en vogue these days. It is probably due to a combination of factors; increased patient load, high overhead costs in urban areas, lack of support and community in rural areas — the list really goes on.
But it would also appear to be a fundamentally untrue statement, at least from the patient perspective. Sure, it may not be as lucrative to be a GP these days — but it’s likely that almost every Canadian would argue their GP is one of the most important people in their lives.
Here are the top four reasons why Family Doctors are more important than ever.
It’s a proven fact that family physicians improve health outcomes
Of course, family doctors won’t be able to deal with extremely complex cases and more often than not will help their patients find a specialist. But there is no better way to manage health in an ongoing way than with regular visits to the same medical practitioner. Regular and routine check-ups are mundane and can be overlooked as insignificant to a patient, but to the doctor, it’s the way they keep tabs on changing and developing symptoms. Catching anything and everything early is always the best medicine.
Family physicians tend to take the long view on patient health
Survey a room and it’s likely a certain percentage of people will have known their family doctor since they were born. When you become a patient of a practicing family physician, the doctor knows he or she will probably be seeing you through any number of health-related incidents as you age — from colds and flus, broken bones, mental health, pregnancy, and age-related illnesses. They aren’t there to simply deal with one acute illness or disease state.
Family physicians treat the entire ‘family’
It’s not a rule, but it tends to happen. If a woman is pregnant, her family doctor will assume the baby as a patient after birth. More times than not, the rest of the family will also see the same doctor. Because of this connectedness between the caregiver and the family unit, the doctor gets a complete health picture. He or she is able to assess the family dynamic on a personality level as well as be aware of any genetic diseases or risks that may be of concern. Knowing the whole family is really the best way for a physician to have a fulsome understanding of a family health history.
Family physicians offer a holistic approach to health and treatments
For all of the reasons we’ve already mentioned, a family physician is the best person to treat the patient as a whole — physically, mentally and emotionally. A family physician who has regular contact with a patient and his or her family will be able to detect variations or the onset of symptoms more easily. Furthermore, they will be able to see the impact a patient’s health is having on their lives.
Tell us what you think. Is family practice really dying out? What are some of the reasons you think family physicians are important?
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