Getting health care for chronic conditions or routine checkups in Canada should be as easy as scheduling an appointment with your family doctor. Unfortunately, that isn’t always easy because not every Canadian has a health care provider.
If you are new to an area or need to find a better physician, you likely want to know how to find a family doctor in Canada accepting new patients. Though finding a doctor can be tricky, each province has guidelines or tools to guide residents in the right direction. The guide below will explore the basic methods and requirements for finding family doctors in Canada.
The Importance of Having a Family Doctor
Despite Canada’s health care and insurance programs, many people seek care at hospitals or urgent care facilities instead of visiting a primary physician regularly. That approach to health care is more reactive, while having a family doctor is proactive. Your family doctor will find ways to improve your health by offering immunizations, screenings, tests, and other beneficial services.
Whether you have a chronic condition or not, your family doctor will learn the nuances of your medical history to provide optimal treatment and care. Though an urgent care or emergency physician is qualified to help you during your time of need, your primary health care provider will be more in tune with your health and medical conditions.
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What Makes a Good Family Doctor
From the time a doctors office opens to the time it closes, there’s an endless amount of people in the waiting room, phones ringing constantly, folks arriving to pick up or drop off forms, doors opening and closing and patients entering and exiting the waiting rooms. It sometimes appears almost impossible that the 10 or 15 minutes that a doctor consults with a patient is hardly enough time to treat and understand the issue. However, there are a few things that make for a good doctor.
They Take Care of Themselves, Too
Not only are long hours a factor in a doctor's lifestyle, but it’s an emotionally wearing job. Day in and day out your doctor is entrusted with the health of hundreds of patients, even critically ill ones. Imagine the feeling of being responsible for a life or death situation, hoping a certain medication or treatment will have a positive effect, that a bone will heal properly, that an infection won’t progress and numerous other things all on your watch? We all know the importance of health and wellness, time to decompress and recharge and eat healthy. A doctor, a good one, should practice all the above too. Walk the walk as they say. A good doctor is a vision and example of health, from the inside out.
They Engage With a Network of Professionals
While a doctor is clearly trained in all things medical, a specialist may be needed from time to time. In order to deliver the best possible treatment plan and diagnosis, your doctor should be engaging with experts on a variety of medical concerns. When an experienced team of healthcare professionals come together to manage, detect and educate on disease and injury, you know you’re receiving the best possible care.
They Utilize Modern Technology
Let’s face it, Covid-19 isn’t behind us just yet. Rightfully so, many people still do not feel comfortable leaving their home and exposing themselves, especially to other people who are potentially sick. More and more doctors are easing the stress of having to visit a doctors office by offering online appointments. They are even able to diagnose many conditions and offer prescriptions over the internet as well.
They Remember Why They Began Practicing Medicine in the First Place
Doctors genuinely want to help people, that’s a given. In general though, most doctors have very interesting reasons why they wanted to become doctors in the first place. Some have suffered the loss of someone they love at a young age, others want to help very specific demographics and open clinics in for example, low income neighbourhoods, and others choose to specialize in sick children, where the rewards are self-explanatory.
They Connect with You
While we could write for days on what makes a doctor a good one but the ultimate point here is what YOU think. Just like every teacher doesn’t mesh with every student, and every management style doesn’t mesh with every employee, the same goes with doctors. You have to find the doctor that makes you feel comfortable, that you can understand, and that you trust. It’s that simple.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Various Provinces and Territories
Doctors shouldn’t be too hard to find, but finding a family doctor that is willing to take on new patients may be a little more tedious. Let’s take a look at what shopping for a doctor looks like in each province and territory.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Ontario
It is relatively simple to find a new doctor in Ontario, but you may have to wait for an appointment. One of the most common methods for Ontario residents is to secure a family doctor online through Health Care Connect, an online platform that helps residents with a valid OHIP card find doctors and nurse practitioners.
The platform only works for people without a family doctor. If you have a health care provider but desire medical care from someone else more suitable to your needs, you must first remove yourself from your existing doctor’s patient list. Then, you can sign up for Health Care Connect.
If you’d like to register yourself or a relative for Health Care Connect, you can do so through its website. After reading and agreeing to the consent notice, you can fill out the Health Care Connect application.
The platform will assign a family doctor to you. However, you must contact their office and determine whether they are suitable for your family’s medical needs. If the medical professional isn’t ideal for you or your family, you must reregister with Health Care Connect to get another doctor.
If you prefer to speak with someone about finding a doctor in Ontario, you can contact Health Care Connect by calling 1-800-445-1822. Another option is to go to the Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website, complete the application, and contact the doctor that the website locates for you. Either way, you will need the following documents to find a health care provider:
- OHIP card or other health care card
- Health care documents
- Mailing address
How to Find a Family Doctor in Quebec
It can be challenging to find a family doctor in Quebec who is accepting new patients. Each year, doctors’ workloads increase, putting higher demands on their offices. A more increased workload usually limits how many new patients a doctor will accept each year.
If you are a new resident of Quebec or need to change health care providers, you have a few options for finding a family doctor. Your first is to use the Quebec Family Doctor Finder website. When you visit the website, be sure to have:
- Your RAMQ card
- The sequential number on your health insurance card
- The RAMQ expiry date
The Quebec Family Doctor Finder will provide you with an estimated time to expect a call from a family doctor if you meet the criteria and input essential information. Wait times will vary depending on the availability of family doctors in each region.
Another way to locate a suitable family doctor in Quebec is to register with the Quebec Health Booklet site. You’ll find a detailed guide to complete your registration and connect with a local health care professional through the website. You will need to provide your postal code and health insurance number for registration.
Other documents you will likely need to locate a doctor in this province include:
- Health insurance card
- Proof of Quebec residency
- Your Canada Post postal code
How to Find a Family Doctor in British Columbia (BC)
The Find a Doctor BC website is the go-to method for locating a British Columbian family doctor. The website’s structure makes it easy to see which family doctors and hospitals in your area are most likely accepting new patients.
First, select your city, then check a box to find practices accepting new patients. After submitting the information, the site will display all the doctors available in British Columbia. You can contact various clinics to schedule an appointment.
You can also register an account to receive notifications about available doctors in your area through the Priority Notification Service website. The site will notify you when a doctor starts accepting new clients for a $3.99 monthly fee.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Alberta
The provincial Find a Doctor website and phone number will help you find a new doctor if you live in Alberta. The Alberta Find a Family Doctor tool comes from the Primary Care Networks.
You can filter the search criteria to find available health care providers in your area that match your preferences on the website. You will also need to enter your address, language preference, gender, and clinic location preference. When you select a doctor, you can use your email address to connect with them.
You can also contact Health Link to locate a family doctor by phone. Call 811 to use the service.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Manitoba
The Manitoba government helps each resident find a family health care professional by phone or online. Reach out for assistance by calling 1-204-786-7111 Monday through Friday to locate an available doctor by phone. You can call between 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. You must find a doctor by telephone if you meet these qualifications:
- Are under 16
- Are registered online through the Family Doctor Finder
- Lack a Manitoba Personal Health Information Number
If you don’t fit the criteria for finding a doctor in Manitoba via telephone, you can use the Family Doctor Finder online. Complete and submit the Family Doctor Finder Online Registration Form to register an account.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Saskatchewan
The Saskatchewan Health Authority makes it simple for residents to find a doctor by creating a list of health care providers in various regions currently accepting new clients. To view the list for your location, go to the Saskatchewan Health Authority website. Select your preferred area and physician preferences.
You will need to contact a medical facility directly to schedule an appointment. The Saskatchewan Health Authority doesn’t update its list daily, so some offices might stop accepting new clients before you call.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Nova Scotia
The demand for family doctors in Nova Scotia is high due to the lack of available health care providers. Despite the challenge of locating a new doctor, you can try calling 811. You can also visit the Need a Family Practice Registry online.
If you choose to conduct your search online, you must register with the Need a Family Practice Registry. Complete the form and provide your:
- Date of birth
- Nova Scotia Personal Health Information Number
- Civic address
- Documents with your personal health information
Regardless of how you search for a family physician in Nova Scotia, you will likely experience a considerable wait time. In some cases, it can take up to 385 days for the registry to assign a family doctor.
How to Find a Family Doctor in New Brunswick
You can use the Patient Access NB registry to locate a family doctor in New Brunswick online. Go to the site and read the required sections to enroll in the program. Click the options most suitable to your family’s needs, then fill out the required form.
Be sure to have an active email and phone number when you submit your request through the Patient Access NB registry. If the agency cannot contact you after matching you with a family doctor, they will close your case, requiring you to reregister.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Prince Edward Island (PEI)
If you want to find a new family doctor in Prince Edward Island, you must go through the Patient Registry Program either online or by telephone. Finding a doctor online requires registration through the Patient Registry Program.
Register your account by completing and submitting the application. It usually takes 15 minutes or less to complete, depending on the number of family members you include on the application. If you prefer to search by phone, call 1-855-563-2101.
The registration process is first-come, first-served. If you are new to the area, you should start looking for a family doctor quickly to avoid delays in receiving health care.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)
The Find a Doctor NL website is a reliable resource for locating suitable health care professionals accepting new patients. The website offers a list of doctors, which breaks down into eastern, central, and western regions.
The website will display a doctor’s specialty, biography, or special notes in some cases. For instance, if a health care provider accepts walk-ins and appointments, the website may include the information under the doctor’s name and contact information. Though the site provides the doctor’s phone number, you are responsible for calling your selected doctor to schedule an appointment.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Yukon
As a resident of Yukon, you can secure a family doctor accepting new patients by viewing the local government’s match service online. Only people living in Whitehorse and its nearby communities can utilize this service.
To begin your application with the match service, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Have a Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan
- Not have a primary health care provider
A parent can enroll minors up to age 19 or their partner or parent if the family members reside at the same address. However, you must have consent to collect and use your relative’s personal information regarding their health and medical conditions to register them.
The system will match you or your relative with a family doctor. Unfortunately, your doctor’s age, clinic location, language, or gender preferences will not alter your match results.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Northwest Territories (NWT)
One of the best resources for securing a family doctor in the Northwest Territories is the Medicard.com website. The site allows you to narrow your search based on various criteria, such as specialties, gender, online schedule, and telehealth. You can also see which health care professionals near you are currently accepting new patients.
Another option is to use RateMds.com. Each doctor on the website has a rating, specialty, and brief biography to help you make the most informed decision when choosing a potential family doctor. The Rate MDs website only shows the local medical professionals serving residents in the Northwest Territories. You must contact an office personally to request an appointment.
How to Find a Family Doctor in Nunavut
You might wonder how to find a family doctor within the three regions of Nunavut. The best way is to visit the Department of Health’s website. There, you will find a map of Nunavut with 25 health facilities.
A yellow dot represents each of the region’s health care centres. When you click on a dot, it will display the name, phone number, and fax number of the health care facility in that area. You can select a centre depending on where you live and contact the facility to schedule an appointment with a family doctor if one is available.
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