At the reception desk of my Burnaby medical clinic - but not visible to my patients – is a sign that says: Treat every patient as a friend or member of your family.
It captures my golden rule of practice: Treat each patient with the same care and consideration I would want for a member of my family.
Most people don’t really understand primary care and the role of the traditional family doctor. They might think of primary care as your first stop on your way to secondary or tertiary care – that family doctors only treat simple medical problems and refer you to a specialist or subspecialist for particular medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, acne, migraines or gastrointestinal symptoms.
My work includes the whole range of medical conditions over the entire lifespan from the baby I delivered two months ago to my two patients over 100.
Moreover, traditional family doctors don’t just treat the problems that patients present for an appointment as they might to a walk-in clinic: an injury, an infection or bothersome symptoms.
I review each patient’s electronic chart before every visit and anticipate proactive and preventive care (important screening tests and check-ups relevant to their total health). In addition to assessing and managing their presenting problems, I advise patients on what we should do to manage the rest of their health based on their age, personal health history, chronic conditions and family history.
We are advocates for our patients to meet the challenges of their lives – and the challenges of the healthcare system. Without a personal family doctor on your side, your healthcare becomes piece meal and no single professional takes responsibility to help you navigate the medical system to access the care you need when you need it.
My medical office assistant Christina shares that advocacy role with me and does her utmost to arrange the necessary investigations, such as diagnostic mammograms and specialist consultations as soon as possible even if that requires making many extra phone calls.
The traditional family doctor has a special perspective – your perspective. We don’t treat disease. We care for the whole person and only see medical conditions in the context of your life, your goals and your values.
Traditional family practice is now in a crisis. In 2013, 176,000 British Columbians did not have a family physician. Today, that number is nearly 900,000; one in five British Columbians are not able to get a family doctor.
May 19 is B.C. Family Doctor Day. It has been marked as a day to recognize the work of the over 6000 family physicians across the province.
All members of our community are welcome to celebrate our Burnaby family physicians at an event hosted by the Burnaby Division of Family Practice from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Neighbourhood Church parking lot (formally Southside Community Church) 7135 Walker Ave.
It’s an opportunity to reflect on the commitment of my colleagues to their patients and community and to learn more about primary care in Burnaby. We have over 370 family physicians working in a variety of places in our community, such as community longitudinal family practices, walk-in clinics and long-term care settings, in hospital, and at the Urgent and Primary Care Clinic in Edmonds.
You will meet me and other Burnaby family physicians, learn about how the Division of Family Practice is working to improve health services for the Burnaby community and, yes, there will be food.
For Burnaby residents without a family physician, there will be registration table where you can sign up to be matched with a family physician.
If you’d like to share your appreciation for your Burnaby family physician by video, here is a virtual card where you can leave your message of thanks for Burnaby’s Family Physicians. Use this link https://app.memento.com/bc-family-doctor-day/yuSqZxgDz/record to record or upload a video.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, read his blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.