Finding a family doctor in Cowtown may seem as impossible as taming a tyrant toddler tantrum in the middle of a grocery store. But thanks to a city that’s ever-expanding, it’s actually not as hard as you might think. With a little strategic planning, and our round-up of personal tips and research, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve got a good doc on your roster. Here is how to get started.
Make a wish list
Before you even get started on your search, start thinking about what it is you are looking for in a family physician. Are you looking for a GP or do you want to specifically work with a paediatrician? Do you have a preference of a male or female doctor? Consider the various elements you are looking for in order to help you when you are essentially ‘interviewing’ your potential future doctor.
Go beyond your own ‘hood
All the new neighbourhoods popping up mean there’s also an influx of new medical clinics and new doctors. If you’re finding that your local area isn’t offering you options, start googling the various clinics in other neighbouring areas. Know your limits, however, you don’t want to start exploring options way in the SE if you live up in the NW. Once you’ve found a few different clinics within an acceptable distance, you can continue.
Test out the clinic
Many of the clinics offer walk-in times, which allows you the opportunity to not only experience the doctors there, but the clinic itself. The clinic can give you an indication of the quality of doctors and care. Is the clinic child friendly? Is it professionally managed? Are the wait times acceptable? It’s also a time to ask about the doctors on staff at the clinic and inquire which ones might be accepting new patients. That way, should you be interested in meeting some of those doctors, you can then book an appointment to do so. While the choice of doctor comes first, remember there may be times when you need an appointment and your doctor is not available—this is why the clinic plays an important role as well.
Check the list
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has an online list that indicates which doctors are accepting new patients, and where they are located. Be sure to use the advanced search to shorten your research time and return specific details (i.e. if you’re looking for a doctor who speaks a different language or is a specialist). It will offer you a comprehensive list of doctors who are accepting patients in the city, along with their addresses and phone numbers for you to make contact.
Ask a friend
Don’t hesitate to ask trusted friends who they have as a family physician, and whether that doctor is accepting new patients. If you know someone who’s had a personal experience with their doctor, it can help tremendously. After all, who better to give you a review of a doctor than someone who has experienced the treatment?
Make the call
As you begin your search, don’t forget the option of HealthLink (811) when the little ones get sick during the winter months and beyond. A friendly voice and immediate advice can go a long way, especially if waiting around in a clinic isn’t the best option. The nurses will give you a good indication of what to do next, and if that includes a visit to the doc, they can help you figure out your next step.
Just remember: the hunt for a family doctor in Calgary does not have to be hazardous to your mental health.
We’ve got more ways to look after your health—especially your smile.