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Physician Heal Thyself

An inquiry into physician satisfaction and the structure of family practice in BC

Problem statement

There are many ways family practices can be structured and physicians compensated, but there is increasing evidence that the currently dominant models of sole/small group family physician practices remunerated through fee for service may no longer be the best way to serve physicians or their patients.  We engaged family physicians in discussions to address this question:

How might we understand the professional and personal needs and interests of family physicians, meet those needs, and at the same time provide high quality primary care for residents of BC?

Our Approach

We held dialogues and individual interviews with 30 family physicians from different practice formats and at different stages of their careers. Each group was asked to reflect on their choices of practice environments, their perceptions of effectiveness in providing quality care for their patients and how care provision might be improved. We also discussed their life satisfaction with career choices. Some highlights of their comments:

  • Administration work is a major challenge for physicians, taking up time they would rather use to provide care or spend with their families.
  • The fee-for-service model of payment leads to high patient volumes and sometimes lower quality of care. Other models were suggested.
  • Young physicians are concerned about both high student debt and finding the right work/life balance. They are reluctant to enter the “small business” model of practicing medicine.

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