Seeing A Different Physician

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Patients sometimes ask whether they are able to consult a different GP within the office for certain medical concerns, instead of seeing their regular Arbour Family Medical physician . They don't want to switch physicians permanently, but rather, would prefer to see a different physician within the office for a specific reason.

This issue arises most frequently when patients prefer a physician of a particular gender to discuss a particular concern, such as the following:

  • gynecological concerns and/or routine gynecologic exams
  • urological concerns
  • fertility issues
  • sexual dysfunction
  • mental health
This issue also frequently comes up when patients seek to schedule with another Arbour Family Medical physician in the hopes of scheduling a more convenient appointment time.

Our Policy
In short, our answer is almost always no for reasons that are discussed in more detail below.

Training & Competence

The family physicians at Arbour Family Medical are highly trained and educated professionals who have dedicated their professional lives to caring for the health and well-being of members of their community. In general, each Arbour Family Medical physician has had at least 10 years of post-secondary education wherein they were exposed to and trained in a wide variety of subjects, and provided care and treatment to patients of all ages, genders, and walks of life.

Accordingly, all Arbour Family Medical physicians are fully qualified to provide primary care to men, women (including expectant mothers), seniors, children, and infants. Where appropriate, referrals are made to outside physicians who have specialized in certain medical issues or procedures. Similarly, if requested, same-gender chaperones are available for sensitive examinations.

Trust & Respect

Providing effective and quality primary care relies upon the existence of a strong foundation of mutual trust and respect between patient and physician. One aspect of this includes a willingness to discuss issues and to permit examination in respect of personal and intimate concerns.

Requests to see a different physician for a specific reason are thus indicators of there potentially being a lack of such a strong foundation of trust and respect. Instead, we see accommodating such requests to be ignoring a deeper problem that warrants attention. Put another way, our view is that if patients are not comfortable discussing issues and permitting examination by their regular family physician, this issue should be openly addressed, either by the patient and physician discussing the concerns frankly to hopefully overcome any reservations, or the patient finding another family physician altogether. In either situation, the end result should be that patients have the benefit of a patient-physician relationship built on a strong foundation of trust and respect.

Equality & Non-discrimination

As an organization, we believe in and promote equality and respect for all. Our physicians, staff, and patients come from a diverse range of backgrounds spanning cultural and ethnic origin, social-economic status, sexual orientation, and other aspects of identity. With this in mind, our office needs to balance, on the one hand, our desire and obligation to be non-discriminatory with, on the other hand, reasonable patient preferences related to religious, cultural, or other personal reasons.

We do so by giving patients the opportunity to make a special request to switch physicians *prior* to their intake appointment, but not afterwards. This policy is important to helping ensure the office stays on the right side of its legal, professional, and regulatory requirements and applying this policy strictly is required to ensure no real or perceived bias.

Resources & Time

Arbour Family Medical physicians take personal responsibility for ensuring the health care needs of their own patients are met, but how exactly this is done is largely up to each physician individually. This includes, for example, the extent to which remote care is provided, the timeliness of responding to written correspondence, when and how many appointments are made available, and the extent to which patients are dissuaded from visiting walk-ins.

The challenge is that many of these considerations compete for the same limited resource, namely, a physician's time. For example:

  • the more time a physician spends responding to written correspondence, the less they are available for appointments
  • the more appointment time slots reserved for urgent matters, the fewer time slots available to be booked in advance
  • the earlier in the day appointments are offered, the less likely evening appointments will also be available
  • the more often the requests of walk-in patients are accommodated, the less likely scheduled appointments run on time.
In other words, it's impossible to have the best of everything, Arbour Family Medical physicians need to balance a myriad of competing factors to deliver the best care possible.

Within such a "individual physician" model, enabling patients to schedule with other Magenta Health physicians in the ordinary course undermines this approach, thereby making irrelevant the careful balance that each Magenta Health physician seeks to put in place.

The obvious follow-up question is of course why Arbour Family Medical uses this model where individual patients see a particular family physician, instead of a model where all patients can see all physicians (a "group practice" model)?

The answer is a long and complicated discussion; both models have their pros and cons and our view is that there's no clearly "right" answer: a individual physician model has certain advantages such as ensuring better continuity of care and a higher overall quality of care since there is a single individual who takes personal responsibility for your health needs; a group physician model has certain advantages such as usually enabling more convenient appointment times and a higher level of responsiveness since the load can be shared across a large pool of physicians.

Suffice it to say, we thought long and hard about how best to proceed, decided to adopt the individual physician model, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 

We understand this approach might not be preferred by all individuals, but the frank answer is that it's impossible for us to simultaneously meet the preferences of all individuals. Rather, our goal is to do the best we can, to be transparent and to communicate our decisions and our reasoning, and to enable patients to make up their mind in respect of how to proceed including, in the worst case, electing to switch to another medical office which has adopted more of a "group practice" model.

Proud Partners of the Guelph Family Health Team.

Arbour Family Medical Centre offers comprehensive health care services for the whole family.

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