Choosing a family doctor
The first step in registering with a family doctor is to find a practice that’s currently accepting new patients. Some provinces have long waiting lists, and you could wait up to a year or more if you’re after a specific doctor. However, there are government-funded organisations to help you with your search, so be sure to check your province’s official health services website.
Once you’ve found somewhere, you’ll need to schedule a meet and greet appointment with the doctor’s office to go over the registration process. You’ll need to fill out some forms about your medical history, but make sure to bring a valid provincial health card with you or you won’t be able to register at all.
If you need an appointment, get in touch with your doctor’s clinic. If your own family doctor can’t see you, you may be referred to another doctor at the same clinic.
However, if you’re not registered with a specific doctor or clinic you can go to a walk-in clinic instead and wait to see a doctor on a first come, first served basis (which can take some time). For minor illnesses, you may be given the option of seeing a nurse or nurse practitioner (NP), which can significantly reduce your wait time at walk-in clinics.
Most Canadian provinces have their own non-urgent medical advice service, which you can access by calling your province’s local medical advice number (and are easily found by searching online).
Some of these services are available in English and French as well as a variety of other languages.
If you’re stuck or have questions, the best thing to do is visit your province’s official health services website – the Canadian Women’s Health Network maintains a regularly updated list of provincial links and phone numbers here.