One of the concerns I hear about from constituents is the importance of having a family doctor.
Attracting doctors to rural communities has been an issue for years in British Columbia and indeed across North America. In our province, an estimated 176,000 people are currently looking for a family doctor to call their own.
Recently, I have been corresponding with a group called the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice.
One of the exciting developments that I’d like to share with you is the work being done by this extraordinary group.
This group, a not for profit society governed by local family physicians, has a mandate to improve the health system through the experience and voices of family physicians and their patients.
There are three physicians who have expressed an interest in relocating to the Central Okanagan. These doctors know about the openings and have been told about the many opportunities that await them in Lake Country.
Operating family practices are major undertakings. They are not immune to the pressures that affect all areas of the workforce. People retire, move or change their professional focus such as going into many of the teaching positions available in the province.
We’re facing that situation now in Lake Country as two physicians have moved on, leaving opportunities for new doctors to set up in our region.
The group I have been corresponding with, the Central Okanagan Division, tells me they understand importance of recruitment and retention of family physicians.
They are currently working with local and provincial resources to develop a robust recruitment, including the A GP for Me initiative.
Created by the General Practice Services Committee, A GP for Me is funded by our government as well as the doctors of B.C.
The goal of the initiative is to make it easier for doctors to care for their patients efficiently—enabling them to accept more patients—and to improve primary care, including a way to help people looking for doctors in their hometown.
In Lake Country, the Central Okanagan Division will offer the A GP for Me initiative to help all practices in our region. This initiative will work towards improvements in workflow and help modernize how offices are operated.
The changes are a benefit themselves but could also help with recruitment, especially for young doctors who want to work their way into a modern practice.
The initiative will also provide education for patients to help all of us make our visits to the doctor’s office more effective and efficient. Having a strong, healthy practice includes patient participation and understanding.
Hopefully, these efforts will enable Lake Country to recruit enough physicians to replace those who are retiring.
I find it encouraging that this work is being done. People want to be able to form an attachment with their family doctor. It’s one of the most important professional relationships we have over the course of our lives and often becomes integrated into future generations of our families.
We’re all in this together. Our doctors and their local organization need the help of the community.
Only by working together will we be able to strengthen our health care system.