Keep the following tips in mind in your search for a family physician:
Use your contacts
Many doctors are more likely to take on a relative, good friend, or business associate of one of their current patients. Spread the word that you’re looking for a physician.
Ask other health professionals
Ask people such as your local pharmacist, optician, dentist or massage therapist. They often have connections to doctors who might be taking new patients.
Bring someone with you
It’s always easier to make your case when you have the support of someone who can advocate for you.
Keep calling doctors’ offices
There’s no harm in calling around every couple of months to see whether a family physician has a new opening.
Get on an “orphan patient” list Local hospitals, emergency rooms, walk-in clinics and regional health authorities often maintain lists of people without a regular doctor. New family physicians or those expanding their practices often use these lists to identify new patients. Ask to be added.
Your provincial ministry of health or provincial college of physicians and surgeons may also provide this kind of service. For example, in Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) offers Health Care Connect, which links patients with doctors, while the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC offers a “Physician Search” feature on its website. More recently, the MOHLTC updated its ontario.ca/healthcareoptions
websites to help Ontarians identify health care resources in their community.
Let them know if you need urgent care
Pregnant women, people with chronic conditions like diabetes, or people who have to manage many different medications may be bumped to the front of patient waiting lists. Ask if there’s a special practice group – such as obstetrics – that deals with your specific needs.
Ask your current family doctor
If you’re moving to a new place, ask your doctor if he or she knows of any physicians who might be willing to take you on.
Check out these resources for more information:
Public Health Agency of Canada website covers every aspect of health care and even has a section for children.
This family-friendly website from the Canadian Paediatric Society covers a wide range of topics and issues, and includes a physician search engine to help you find a doctor in Canada.
If you think you’ve found a doctor, you can check this website to see if anyone has shared their feedback on being his or her patient.
Search for a midwife across Canada. Addresses many midwife issues such as legal status and the education and tests required to be a midwife.
A general heath care site for Canadians. Click on the Find a Doctor link to help in your search.
Government of British Columbia health page.
Website of College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia. Find a new physician and look up contact information of any physician.
Website of the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia.
Government of Alberta Health and Wellness site. Includes a child-specific section geared towards parents that gives tips on how to raise a healthy child.
Website of College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta. Search for family physicians accepting new patients.
Government of Saskatchewan website.
Website of Saskatoon Health Region. Includes a list of family doctors accepting new patients.
Government of Manitoba health website.
Website of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
Find a family doctor or nurse practitioner by area. You can also locate health facilities such as hospitals and walk-in clinics.
Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000): call to speak with a registered nurse 24/7.
Website of the Association of Ontario Midwives. Locate a midwife or practice near you.
Website for Quebec health care.
Prince Edward Island
Website for the government of PEI. Includes links to health-care options such as doctor search, hospitals and walk-in clinics.
Website of the Health and Wellness department of PEI.
Website of Doctors Nova Scotia. Includes a directory of family physicians accepting new patients and a list of hospitals and walk-in clinics.
Website of the Midwifery Coalition of Nova Scotia.
Website of the department of Health and Wellness
of Nova Scotia.
Tele-care (811): call to speak with a nurse for medical advice.
Website of the Government of New Brunswick. Access Health Department from a pulldown menu at the top.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Website of The College of physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador. Search for family physicians accepting new patients by area.
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador health website.
Government of Yukon Territory healthcare website.
Northwest Territories Medical Association home page. Includes contact information of hospitals and clinics in the NWT.
Government of the Northwest Territories website. Click on the Departments link to find Health & Social Services.
Government of Nunavut health care website.
Published in March 2011.