If you are a new resident or your doctor is going to retire, you face a challenging task. The purpose of this article is to help you find a family doctor and where to get medical services before you find one. For new immigrants and visitors, it is is necessary to enroll in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) and obtain BC Care Card in order to register with a doctor.
Why do you need a family doctor?
A family doctor (or general practitioner, GP) is basically how the healthcare starts in BC. Family doctors provide a vast array of medical services. They keep your medical history and monitor your health conditions. Some specialists won’t even see you without a referral of a family doctor.
If I don’t have a family doctor, where can I go for healthcare?
If you are a new immigrant or a foreign worker- you might not have a family doctor yet. In this case it is recommended that you purchase a private health insurance policy until you go on a provincial coverage. Private coverage covers emergency medical care, hospitalization, as well as prescription drugs and follow up visit. In case of an emergency call your insurance company and give them your policy number and describe your situation. The insurance company will then assist you with finding the optimal solution, whether it’s a walk in clinic or a hospital.
To find a private insurance plan that is right for you- use our Visitors TO Canada insurance calculator.
For non-emergency healthcare, you can use a Walk-in Clinic around Metro Vancouver. Even though you don’t need an appointment you can wait for hours without making one. If you don’t yet have a family doctor and you are ill or need an annual exam, prostate exam, prescription, etc. you can make an appointment with a Walk-in Clinic.
Find a Walk-in Clinic near you via HealthLink BC site or with the free BC Health Services Locator App.
So how do you find a family doctor after all?
There are several things you can try:
• Look it up online though the College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia
• Look it up through the Vancouver BC Doctor Directory
• Ask at a Walk-in Clinic:some of the doctors in your neighborhood may know family doctors who are accepting new patients
• Ask your old family doctor if he’s retiring for a reference for a new family doctor.
• Ask everyone you know, and then ask all their friends! Getting a tip on a new doctor or one who is accepting new patients can come from anywhere, so ask as many people as you can.