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North Saanich patient places “Doctor Wanted” ad

With her GP retiring, one patient takes action

When Tracy Lawrence was last looking for a family doctor 14 years ago, she put an ad in the paper — and it worked. Now, that doctor is retiring, so she’s hoping an ad will work again.

Lawrence, a North Saanich resident, said she first sought a family doctor when she had her son, in order to establish a family history with one doctor.

“I couldn’t find one at the time, and this was 14 years ago,” said Lawrence. “So I took an ad out, just like I did this time.”

While a doctor did not contact her, someone she knew recommended their own doctor who was taking new patients, and it worked out. Now, 14 years later, she said she’s trying the same strategy to see what comes of it.

Before placing the ad, Lawrence said she tried looking online for a family doctor, but to no avail. The Victoria Medical Society keeps a list of doctors taking new patients, but that list is bare. She tried calling some other offices anyway, including her husband’s doctor, but none of them were taking new patients. Her husband’s doctor placed her on a five-year wait list.

“That was my first realization that this might be a problem.”

Lawrence likes the consistency of a family doctor over a walk-in clinic, since they accept appointments and are more familiar with a person’s medical history.

“The most important thing is seeing the same doctor for every issue so they can track your health and if something goes awry, it might be more obvious if there’s that history,” said Lawrence.

To combat the shortage of primary health care providers, the province announced Wednesday it is creating 200 new nurse practitioner (NP) positions in a shift towards team-based primary health care. NPs can prescribe medication, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, and perform some medical procedures.

In a statement, Minister of Health Adrian Dix acknowledged there are “significant numbers” of British Columbians with inadequate access to a primary health care provider, and that “compared to other jurisdictions, B.C. has not made the best use of NPs.” By creating 200 new NP positions and adding 30 nurse practitioner education seats in B.C. universities, “this is about to change.” There are currently 426 NPs in B.C.

Until that change can take effect, Lawrence hopes the ad will kick start her search.

“I thought putting a want ad might spark some people to have a conversation with their doctor and say, ‘Oh, I hear someone’s looking.’ Spread the word faster.”