Your Relationship with your Doctor
Why should I have a family doctor?
It’s important to communicate and build a relationship of trust with your doctor for effective care. A family doctor can manage all of your health reports, prescriptions, referrals and more to ensure that your medical needs and prescription safety are attended to properly.
Finding a Family Doctor
The Saskatchewan Health Authority maintains a list of family physicians who are accepting new patients: Doctors Accepting New Patients.
How do I find a doctor who is receptive to the needs of Indigenous patients? What should I look for?
The Meet & Greet Appointment
You can arrange to meet more than one doctor for a Meet & Greet appointment. Sometimes it takes more than one visit to find a family doctor that is a good fit. This is an opportunity to discuss with your doctor about the type of care they provide, their areas of expertise, and more. While not all doctors offer this opportunity, meet and greet appointments are a great tool. There should be no charge for a Meet & Greet appointment.
Can I ask questions if I'm not sure about something?
What kinds of questions should I ask?
- - ask whether the doctor is willing to accommodate for traditional ceremonies such as smudging in your care,
- - ask whether he/she is open to the use of traditional medicines,
- - ask whether he/she understands the history of Indigenous people of Saskatchewan and the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous health outcomes,
- - talk about any concerns you may have about "Western-style" medical treatment,
- - determine if you will need a translator or someone to come to your appointments with you to help ensure proper communication,
- - and much more!
What rules does the doctor have to follow?
In addition to The Medical Profession Act, 1981, your doctor is required to practice in accordance with a number of bylaws, policies, standards, and guidelines which are based on the Code of Ethics. The objective for these is to ensure that physicians in the province provide a high standard of care in a safe and respectful manner.
Building a relationship with your family doctor
Talk to your doctor about your medical & cultural needs.
- - Ask questions! It’s ok and encouraged to ask questions if you don’t understand something, or aren’t sure if you can do what the doctor asks of you.
- - Your physician is expected to provide care that meets the standards of the profession with regards to thorough assessment; appropriate examination; evidence-based treatment; provision of follow up; respectful and informative communication and adequate record-keeping. Primary Care Standards
- - Patients are expected to behave in a respectful manner with physicians and office staff. Physical or verbal abuse are not tolerated in workplaces and can be grounds for termination from a physician’s practice.
- - In order to provide the best care to you, your doctor needs you to be honest and complete in providing medical information, including any changes you have made to your treatments and medications. In addition, if you have seen other doctors between visits to your regular doctor, it is in your best interest to inform your doctor and mention any results or treatments at those visits.
- - Try your best to attend your appointments, or to notify your doctor’s office if you are unable to make it, or you are running late. Missed appointments waste time that could have been used by another patient.
- - Recordings of any type should be discussed with the doctor, as there are situations where recordings may infringe on the privacy rights of other patients.
- - You can prepare for your appointment by visiting: https://www.ehealthsask.ca/ This will allow you to access any test results or any other pertinent information so you can formulate any questions for your doctor in advance of your visit and arrive prepared.
Overcoming Language & Cultural Barriers
Patient-Physician communication is a critical part of quality healthcare and physicians must obtain informed consent in order to treat a patient. But who can you talk to if you don't understand your doctor and/or what he or she expects of you?
What if the patient doesn't speak English?
If an interpreter is needed, patients may bring a family member or community member to assist with translation. In some circumstances, interpretation or translation services may be available. For more information on interpretation or translation services and on informed consent, see the College's policy on Informed Consent and Determining Capacity to Consent.
Help your doctor understand how you express yourself
This should be addressed by your doctor in the relationship building phase. If you feel your communication style is not being understood by the doctor, feel free to address it with him/her. They are here to help and will welcome your feedback.
It is okay for the doctor to ask clarifying questions to better understand the patient’s communication style.
What can you do if you think your doctor might not understand or respect your traditional/cultural needs?
- - If your concern has to do with SHA employees (family physicians), contact Saskatchewan Health Authority First Nations and Métis Relations office at 306-655-0176.
- - For concerns regarding independent physicians, contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan at 1-800-667-1668 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. After hearing your concern, the CPSS may request that the physician take cultural responsiveness training in order to provide better services.
- - Patients may also contact a Quality of Care Coordinator and/or a Patient Representative in their community. If the patient is a member of a First Nation, contact their Health Director and if patient is Métis contact their Métis local or MN-S Health Director.