One of the challenges families face when moving to a new city is how to find a family doctor. Greater Victoria, like much of Canada, is facing a shortage of family doctors due to an aging population and challenges recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals.
Unfortunately, finding a family doctor could take a long time – years even. However, with research, a systematic search, and a dollop of good luck, you CAN find a doctor, or a good alternative. Here’s are some ideas, tips, and resources to help you in your search for medical practitioners.
Call Medical Clinics
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 more patients and hasn’t yet publicized their intention.
Even if doctors at the clinic are not accepting patients, request they take your name and contact information down so they can contact you should an opening come available.
Also ask if they know of any doctors who are accepting patients. Like most professions, doctors associate with many of their colleagues, so they might know of someone who is taking on new patients.
Get a Referral from Family or Friends
Ask for a referral from friends or family members who live in the area and have a family doctor they trust. If they do, find out if they would be willing to mention you are looking for a physician. Their doctor might be willing to take you on at their behest.
Use an Alternate Form of Primary Care
You may have to abandon the idea of having a general GP and go with another option. Fortunately, there are good options.
In B.C., naturopathic doctors (NDs) are licensed and regulated healthcare providers. They can prescribe and administer certain medications such as vitamin and mineral supplements, botanical medicines, homeopathic remedies, and other natural health products. However, NDs in British Columbia are not authorized to prescribe certain medications, such as narcotics or controlled substances. What they can do in their scope of practice is outlined by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia (CNPBC).
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are highly trained healthcare providers with advanced education and clinical training that enables them to provide a range of health services, including prescribing medications. NPs are an excellent alternative if you are struggling to find a doctor. You can learn more about NPs and the role they now play in the health of our community HERE.
If you’re expecting a baby, consider a highly trained midwife to help you with a safe and healthy pregnancy, birth, and newborn care. They are experienced in working with hospitals, clinics, and home-based deliveries, and they collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure you have the best maternity care experience possible.
Walk in Clinics
Many people opt to rely on walk-in clinics when something is wrong with their health. The Medimap website is a good resource to find out which clinics are open, how long the wait is, and whether it is at capacity.
Telemedicine has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is expected to continue to grow as a viable healthcare option in the future.
Telemedicine doctors provide consultations, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care to patients through videoconferencing or phone calls. This is an excellent alternative for people with limited access to traditional healthcare services or for those with mobility issues. However, it isn’t suitable for everyone. Island Health provides telehealth locations and discusses if this would be a good option for you.
More Resources to Help You Find a Family Doctor or Other Medical Practitioners
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.
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.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC)
CPSBC has an online directory which allows you to search for doctors by location, specialty, and language spoken.
The South Island Division of Family Practice
This organization works to improve access to primary care services in the region and may be able to help you find a family doctor.
The Victoria Seniors’ Directory
If you are an older adult, this invaluable directory will help you find all manor of specific medical help, support groups and contact information.
Be Patient in Your Search.
Double entendre aside, finding the right family doctor can take time, so be patient and persistent in your search. It’s important to have a doctor you feel comfortable with and who can meet your health needs.
We hope this helps. Meanwhile, if you’re planning on moving to Victoria, or even a different neighbourhood in Greater Victoria, we’d be happy to provide you with an estimate for your move.