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LETTER: Family physicians are the vital link in our health system

More than 50,000 Nova Scotians have registered with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, saying they do not have a family doctor. - Fotolia
- Contributed

In a recent issue of the Quebec magazine “L’actualité” of July 2019, I was attracted by a medical editorial written by Alain Vadeboncoeur, a 55 year old physician entitled: “Je n’ai pas de médecin” literally translated to “I have no physician.”

The article questions the real need of a family physician for regular follow up, annual blood work, various other yearly tests.

He argues that “for a long time, science has made us aware that all the mentioned practices in a healthy individual don’t make our health better and don’t prolong our life.” 

The only test that he had done was a screening colonoscopy because of a family history of colon cancer. 

Being a physician, he tends to lean towards self-diagnosis but stays away from self-treatment.  He also states that when he is really sick he goes to Emergency. He concludes that the need for a family physician is for sick patients with serious symptoms.

Certainly, with the increasing cost of health-care delivery and the shortage of family physicians across the land, a lot of the points raised in the article are well taken. 

However, certain clarifications are needed. 

The first point has to do with the medical knowledge of the sick individual. 

It is quite evident that few of us have the medical knowledge to make a decision on when and where to seek medical advice in spite of the availability of the Google school of medicine. The second point has to deal with the real role of family physicians that needs explanation. The materialistic changes in our society have reflected on the way we deliver health care as a business. 

We tend to forget the basis of our medical mission highlighted by caring, compassion, competence and communication. 

Teaching total patient care and emphasizing the human aspects of medicine are now taking priority in our medical schools. 

Save for acute medical and surgical crisis, our human health journey is full of suffering including aging, chronic diseases and different kinds of stress. 

A steady help is badly needed. 

The family physician with his or her broad clinical knowledge of patient care is the real confidant, the adviser, the communicator and the healer. They are the real link in maintaining the human relationship in the delivery of health care.

Let us not lose that link.  

We need it to be a strong one, so we won’t embrace the robotic mode during our human journey.

P.S.: This letter was not written in the context of the present crisis in the province regarding the shortage of family physicians.

Falah Maroun,
St. John’s


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