In Canada, citizens are lucky to be able to go to hospital emergency rooms, walk-in clinics, or family health teams and get treated for free because of universal health plans. While these places are competent and able to treat patients for whatever ailment they have, they are no replacement to seeing your family doctor.

For emergency situations, medical treatment should be sought as quickly as possible. However, if your illness or condition is not as serious and you can wait to be seen, below are 4 benefits of visiting your family doctor.

1. They know your history

When you visit an Emergency Room or walk-in clinic, you will get the medical treatment that you need. However, as you continue to visits these places, chances are you will get someone new every time. This can cause delays and confusion as they educate themselves on information such as conditions you have been treated for in the past, present issues, and any current medications.

Your family doctor is someone who is aware of your medical history or at least has all information at his/her fingertips for quick access. This allows them to make better diagnoses, monitor your health as you age, and prescribe the most effective medications. Your family doctor is also someone who has multiple members of your family as patients and has treated many generations. This allows him/her to be mindful of any past or present conditions within your family and watch for them when treating you.

2. Referrals

While a family doctor is extremely helpful and can assist you with a lot of things, sometimes you may have a more serious condition that requires seeing a specialist. Because you may not know what type of specialist you need to see, a family doctor definitely comes in handy.

When you visit your family doctor and it is determined that you need to see a specialist, he/she knows of at least a few in the area where a referral can be made to. Whether it is for an area such as cardiology, urology, or neurology, a family doctor can make a referral and is usually aware of the length of wait lists at these offices. This ensures that you have the best chance of being seen in a timely manner.

3. Local procedures

Conditions or issues more serious in nature should obviously be looked after at a hospital emergency room. However, sometimes minor ailments present themselves and you do not want to spend hours in a waiting room for something that is not life-threatening yet still needs to be addressed.

Family medicine is beneficial because the doctors can perform minor procedures in their offices, allowing you to make an appointment and avoiding a wait in a hospital or walk-in clinic. These can include wart removal, skin biopsies, vaccinations, and tuberculosis testing. That way, your family doctor can treat what needs to be addressed and you can then carry on with your day without wait times slowing you down.

4. Continuity of care

Probably one of the greatest benefits of attending your family doctor for treatment is the continuity of care that occurs when you do. Your family doctor has treated you since you were a baby and is aware of your complete medical history. This allows the opportunity to build a solid relationship with your family doctor based on openness and trust.

Seeing your family doctor regularly has proven to be beneficial to your overall health as well. This is because people who visit their family doctors regularly can avoid waiting too long to see a doctor who can treat them or ignoring symptoms that lead to hospitalizations or serious illnesses.

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