Family Doctors

1. What is a family doctor?
A family doctor is a certified therapist who regularly monitors your health and keeps your medical file. If you feel sick or unwell, you can set up an appointment and discuss your health problems with your family doctor. Your doctor is obliged to keep confidential any information about your medical condition and cannot pass on personal or medical information to anyone without your consent. If you want to get a second opinion, ask your family doctor, and he or she can refer you to another doctor. Each family doctor has their own schedule of business days and hours, which you should keep a record of, along with the phone number of the doctor’s office.

2. What is Health Care Connect?
Health Care Connect is a program that helps people find a family doctor in Ontario. Its employees have information on family doctors, who are currently taking new patients. You can use Health Care Connect to find a family doctor if:
•you have an OHIP card,
•you have a permanent residence in Ontario, and
•you currently have no family doctor.
By signing up for Health Care Connect call 1-800-445-1822 and get your address.

3. How can I choose a family doctor?
If you find more than one address of a family doctor, perhaps you would prefer to choose a doctor who speaks your native language. Sometimes, you will not be able to find such a doctor near your home, so you have to choose a doctor who will communicate with you in English only. In that case, write down a number of relevant medical terms relating to your health problem in your notebook and make sure that the doctor understands your questions and you understand his answers. Ask your doctor, which hospitals and medical laboratories are located in you area and how and where you can get health care in your area after-hours and on weekends.

4. What medical services can I get from a family doctor?
Usually you will meet your family doctor by appointment. You have to call the office and arrange the date and time of the meeting. However, in the case of urgent need, you can just come to the office and ask the receptionist to let you meet your doctor. In most cases the receptionist will find for you an opportunity to do so, though you will likely have to wait. When appearing at the reception desk, you should show your health card. Even if you come at exactly the time as your specified appointment, waiting time may be an hour or more. When it is your turn, the doctor's assistant will measure your blood pressure, and then the doctor will ask you about your health problems. He or she is also will carry out a brief inspection of your body and if necessary, you will receive prescriptions for medication or a referral to a specialist, or even, depending on what is discovered, the hospital. Also, depending on your health, you can be asked to take various medical tests, X-rays, ultrasounds or other examinations.

5. Can I change my family doctor?
Yes, you can change your family doctor. For example, if you moved to another area and now you find it is difficult to reach his/her office, or you find a doctor who speaks your native language, etc. In this case, if you have already been accepted by a new doctor, explain to your previous doctor why you are leaving and ask him/her to transfer your medical file to the new doctor.

6. Can I get assistance from medical students?
Students of medical universities frequently practice in medical centres and hospitals, so it is possible that before the meeting with a doctor, you'll have to meet with a medical student. They usually perform minor duties, chatting with patients and report to doctors the results. You cannot be forced to receive service from students. It is up to you to decide if the student is capable of performing the services that they wish to provide for you.

7. How can I file a complaint against my family doctor?
If you want to file a complaint against your family doctor you should contact your local provincial/territorial Ministry of Health or your province or territory's College of Physicians and Surgeons.

8. Where can I find sources of additional information about family doctors in Canada?
Find a family doctor or nurse practitioner

9. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
How do I choose a family doctor using other languages.