How to Find a Family Doctor in Toronto: A Simplified Guide
You’ve probably read, heard, or seen the news about a section of Ontarians not having a primary health care provider.
The reasons are varied and if yours is the fact that you’ve just moved into the city and haven’t gotten around to finding one, your doctor has retired or moved, you’ve been discouraged by reports of Toronto and other areas within Ontario having limited doctors, or you’ve never ever had one, here’s another chance to turn things around.
But before you get down to the ways on how to find a family doctor in Toronto, spare some time to think about the qualities, attributes, and other aspects you would like your prospective family doctor to have, ranging from scope of practice, gender, and location to how many years are left before they retire, your health needs, language, availability, and many other factors.
If possible, have each of these aspects figured out. To those who’ve never had a family doctor before, it would be of great help if you first understand who these professionals are and their roles.
What’s The Role Of A Family Doctor?
Generally, a family doctor acts as your primary healthcare provider. He/she will be the first person you’ll reach out to when you have health concerns. Some of their main roles include:
- Diagnosing and treating common illness and injuries.
- Referring you to a specialist doctor when you need one.
- Helping to manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Providing prescription medication.
- Performing regular health check-ups, laboratory tests, screening tests, say, for cancer, and other medical tests.
However, the situation is a bit different when it comes to a nurse practitioner. Even though either can act as your primary healthcare provider, it’s important to note that a nurse practitioner is only a registered nurse with additional education plus experience.
That means the list of services they can offer is limited, compared to what doctors provide. For example, they may not be able to offer prescriptions for medication. Nevertheless, if you need services that they are unable to offer, they can either consult with a doctor or connect you to one.
Considerations For Choosing Your Family Doctor In Ontario
In addition to the factors we mentioned earlier, there are a couple of extra things you may want to take note of once you’ve gathered the names and contacts of prospective family doctors.
Some doctors can set aside time for interviews, either in person or via telephone, but the majority will hardly be able to due to their tight schedules. Also, bear in mind the possibility that there could be several of you looking for a family doctor in Toronto and some may not have all the time to host everyone for an interview.
Thankfully, most family doctors in Ontario have websites where some of the important questions you may have are answered. Alternatively, you can visit their office and get more information from their staff or brochures.
But before going any further with your questions, first of all, find out if the doctor is accepting new patients as it won’t help to gather information you may never use.
As for your part, come well-prepared. That includes having:
- A list of the medications you take (if any)
- Medical tests results you’ve done before, like x-rays and screening tests.
- Every important information about your past medical history, from allergies, sexual health, and family history to immunizations, alternative therapies, mental health, and so on.
Such information will help the doctor evaluate their suitability to meet your specific health needs and also help you find the best family doctor in Toronto.
How Do I Search For A Family Health Care Provider?
In Toronto, there are several resources you can utilize to find a family doctor without having to spend lots of time or money. Check them out below.
Enroll For Health Care Connect
First, you will need to register with the Health Care Connect service, a program run by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. With the help of an assigned Health Care Connector, you’ll be linked to an available local doctor or nurse practitioner. Higher priority is usually given to young children and pregnant women. However, to qualify for this service, you must have registered for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and not be already registered with an Ontario family health care provider.
Use CPSO Doctor Search Services
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has a website on which you can search for a family doctor. You can search either by location, specialty, postal code, or the doctor’s name. All the results will include the doctor’s qualification, location(s) of practice, and contact information.
Opencare Search Services
Opencare website’s primary purpose is to assist patients to locate specialized health care providers who are near them. This means you will hardly find a general practitioner, but it will be easier finding a family doctor in Toronto who is a patrician, gynecologist, psychiatrist, cardiologist, or any other medical specialists.
In addition to these three, you can try out the following:
- Ask a family member or a friend if their doctor has a slot for an extra patient(s).
- Find out from your former doctor (if you had one) if they know another doctor based where you are moving to and if they can refer you right away.
- Visit the nearest medical centers, including hospitals, and find out if they have a family practice unit.
- Find out from a staffer at your local settlement agency if they can link you to a doctor(s) who is accepting new patients and speaks your native language.
Contrary to the discouraging reports you may have encountered while researching on how to find a doctor in Toronto, the city still has a reasonable number of family factors who are accepting new patients. Besides, some communities within the Toronto have been creating incentives designed to attract new family doctors so that everyone can benefit from an abundance of family doctors. For now, all you have to do is figure out the kind of family healthcare provider you want, correctly apply to any of the several ways we’ve discussed when looking for one, and be well-prepared when meeting them for interviews.