As a family physician my practice is about the valued relationships between me and my patients. I have spent my career getting to know each of them, and I appreciate the trust they have in me. Sometimes my job is to reassure but more often it requires me to diagnose and coordinate care with a broad spectrum of other specialities, services and health care providers.
Family physicians are often the first point of contact for patients with the health care system. We work in our clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, long-term care facilities, patients’ homes and research and education facilities. As a community of family physicians, we deliver babies, support our patients through palliative care and everything in-between. We treasure these moments and feel privileged to be involved in major life events. We are privileged to practice family medicine in Saskatchewan.
In addition to all the positives, there are also issues to be dealt with in primary care in our province. Equal access, continuity of care, and timeliness need to be addressed through better primary care support systems. Patient populations are growing and becoming more complex. People in areas of Saskatchewan don’t have access to a family doctor and don’t have the benefit of continuity of care with a primary care provider. This must be addressed to ensure that every person in Saskatchewan has access to a family doctor.
Team-based care is part of the solution for better primary care. The Patient’s Medical Home model of care promotes continuous, comprehensive, patient-centred care led by family physicians and supported by a team of other health care professionals. By supporting our family physicians with a team around them, we could spend more time doing what we need to be doing - talking with our patients.
It is time to work together to improve the Saskatchewan health care system. Family physicians provide a higher level of continuity of care and are associated with lower hospitalization rates and all-cause mortality. The evidence is clear that family physicians are vital to a strong primary care system. We need a system that supports and promotes better team-based approaches to health care around the family physician. Despite the current barriers, the 1,000 family physicians in Saskatchewan, myself included, spend our days providing the best possible care we can for our patients. By building a stronger system to support our important work, we could do so much more.
The week of Nov. 12 -17 was Family Doctor Week in Canada. Let’s thank our Saskatchewan family doctors for the amazing care they provide to you, your families, and our communities.
Dr. Mark Cameron MD CCFP FCFP
Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians