New Brunswick

Everyone should have access to a family doctor, says N.B. doctor and next CMA president

Young physicians leaving medical school don’t want to take on thousands of patients in a new practice, the Canadian Medical Association’s incoming president says. 

Dr. Ann Collins is retiring as a family physician to become the next Canadian Medical Association president

Dr. Ann Collins will be leaving her family practice in Fredericton to become the next president of the Canadian Medical Association. (Canadian Medical Association)

Young physicians leaving medical school, don't want to take on thousands of patients in a new practice, the Canadian Medical Association's incoming president says. 

"The practice of medicine has changed," said Dr. Ann Collins. "They want a different lifestyle."

That's tough to hear for people in Fredericton, which has just lost four family physicians, leaving thousands of people without a doctor to replace them.

Collins said the new attitude makes sense, as the practice of medicine continues to evolve into promoting more healthy living in the community and decreasing the number of sick patients in hospital with chronic illness.

She said more doctors are also looking for team-based practices, which will prevent burnout.  

"A practice of 2,500 patients is not going to be the norm. That ship has sailed," she said. 

That number alone could be split between three physicians, she said.

Helping in a different way

Collins is leaving her post as a family physician and taking on a new role as president of the Canadian Medical Association at the end of August, which advocates on subjects related to national health.

Leaving behind hundreds of patients without a family doctor has been "gut-wrenching," for the Fredericton doctor.

Horizon Health Network says it's recruiting more family physicians for the fall. (Hannah McKay/Reuters/Pool)

But she's hoping to help them in a different capacity.

In her new role, she's planning to remind government that every Canadian, including New Brunswickers, should have access to family doctors.

She's also hoping to improve mental health care for Canadian youth and learn more about what Canadians need from the health-care system.

"We need to stop talking and put into action what Canadians need for care," she said. "Where they need it, when they need it."

A difficult year

Earlier this week, Horizon Health Network said the four doctors each had their own reasons for leaving. Four new family doctors are expected to arrive in the city "sometime this fall."

Over the past few years, Collins said Fredericton has seen many young physicians working in the area. But this year has been difficult because of the pandemic and the number of physicians leaving for personal reasons, such as retirement. .

Collins said part of her new role will also be to help create a better plan for doctors to find a successor once they retire or leave their practice, making it easier for patients and doctors themselves.

"It's easier to start a practice than to find a successor," she said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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