Family physicians are the bedrock of the health care system. When a person reaches out for health care, nervous that something might be wrong, we are the first person they see, and we are the person who walks side by side with them through that problem, and the next, and the next.
So, it was not a surprise to me when the BC College of Family Physicians (BCCFP) public polling in 2019 found that more than 90% of people in British Columbia value having a relationship with a family physician.
Over the past two years, we have been speaking with our members to understand your experience as a family physician in BC. We spent time as a board discussing and debating how to support our members and let you know that we see you, value you and care about you. We conducted member polling to receive your direct feedback.
You told us you feel there is a lack of recognition by government for the foundational work you do as specialists in family medicine. You told us you don’t believe the government understands the current experience of being a family physician in BC – the increasing complexity of care and the burden of non-clinical work. You shared your concerns about a compensation model that rewards quantity over quality, expressing doubt that this system is sustainable. You are worried about physician burnout, and the lack of new graduates replacing those who retire. You are worried about how this affects your patients. You care.
We heard you, and that’s why we launched the My Family Doctor Cares campaign. This province-wide campaign brings attention to the value of a long-term relationship with a family physician, the difficulty that British Columbians have finding a family physician, and the complex experiences faced by family physicians today. We want the public and those in power to know how you feel.
It has been fantastic to see so many of you adding your own unique voice to the campaign to show how much you care. Here are just a few of the creative ways you are contributing:
Shoreline Medical in Sidney shared the new dedicated My Family Doctor Cares page on their website and posted about it on Facebook. Creating a news page like this on your clinic’s website is a great way to help spread the word – all you need to do is share the resources we provide in the members-only Learning Vault of the BCCFP website.
Dr. Jessica Otte, a Nanaimo-based family physician, was one of the first to use our MLA letter writing tool, and posted on Twitter encouraging others to do the same. Social media templates for you to share can be found in the members-only Learning Vault of the BCCFP website.
Dr. Lawrence Yang, Department Head of Family Medicine at Surrey Memorial Hospital, is among the family physicians who have signed up to attend our ambassador training webinars on Tuesday, March 3 and Monday, March 9. Dr. Yang said, “I often feel under-resourced in my work as a longitudinal care family doc. I’m convinced that the public are our allies in this battle for awareness of the importance of family doctors.” These webinars will help you feel confident about speaking to colleagues, the public and local media about the My Family Doctor Cares campaign. Find out more and register here.
Dr. Jennifer Rogerson emailed us to order our free My Family Doctor Cares stickers to give out at her clinic in Delta, while a number of members downloaded or ordered copies of our posters to put up in their waiting rooms.
Not only are family physicians getting involved, patients are also joining us in spreading word about the campaign and advocating to government. More than 500 people have used the tool on our My Family Doctor Cares website to write to their MLA.
I am very grateful for the wonderful support of family physicians and patients so far. You are helping us gather strength as we move to our next step of opening a dialogue with government to ensure the family physician voice is central to discussions about health care in BC.
Now is the time to take action in creating a health care system that invests in its foundation and supports family physicians in our pursuit of providing exceptional patient care.