If you are moving to the Greater Victoria area, you are going to learn very quickly that there is a shortage of family doctors. It can take years to find a doctor to call your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope. Here are a couple of resources and suggestions for what you can do to find a family physician and how to cope in the meantime.
Option One: Cold Calling
One thing you can try is to call different medical offices and ask them if they are taking on patients. You might get lucky and find one that has a doctor who is considering taking on someone else but hasn’t publicized that information yet.
If you are not lucky, you can do a couple of things:
- Ask them to write your name down and to call you back should a spot open up.
- Ask if they know of any doctors who are accepting patients. Like most professions, doctors have insider knowledge about what is going on with many of their colleagues, so they might know of someone who would consider taking on another patient.
Option Two: Ask Your Friends/Family to Refer You to Their Doctor
The other thing you try is to find out if any of your friends or family members have a doctor. If they do find out if they would be willing to mention to their doctor that you are looking for a physician. Their doctor may be willing to take you on because of your connections.
Option Three: Use an Alternate Form of Primary Care
Finally, the third thing is to abandon the idea of finding a medical doctor to use as your primary care physician and look elsewhere for care. Since 2009 people in British Columbia have been able to choose a naturopathic doctor as their primary care physician.
In the meantime, while you are searching for a doctor it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different walk-in clinics in the area. It’s not a perfect solution. Many of the clinics are filled to capacity early in the day, but it is better than nothing. And if you are looking for a list of wait times check out the website Medimap. They will let you know which clinics are open, how long the wait is, and whether or not it is at capacity. They also have a section for individuals who are looking for a family doctor and you can fill out some information to be notified if any doctors at walk-in clinics publicize that they are accepting new patients.
Another resource that can help you once more doctors start accepting patients again is the Victoria Medical Society. They list family doctors and, if you are pregnant, they also have a list of maternity doctors who are accepting new patients.
Another resource for people who are looking for a family doctor is HealthLink BC. You can reach them by calling 811, and they can provide you with information about walk-in clinics as well as other resources in the area that keeps track of which doctors are accepting patients.