Whether you're a new resident or one whose doctor is retiring, finding a new family doctor in Vancouver can be a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be! Use this guide and FAQs to learn the most effective strategies for finding a family doctor in Vancouver as well as where to get healthcare before you have a family doctor in place.
If you're moving to Vancouver from out of province or from another country, make sure you are enrolled in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) and have your BC Care Card before beginning your family doctor search.
Why to Find a Family Doctor
A family doctor (or general practitioner, "GP") is basically the cornerstone of healthcare in British Columbia. Family doctors provide the vast majority of patient care. They get to know you and your health history, monitor all of your health conditions, and provide referrals to specialists as needed. Many specialists (e.g., dermatologists) will not see patients without a doctor referral. While you can get referrals from doctors at a Walk-in Clinic (see below), having your own family doctor ensures continuity of care.
Where to Go for Healthcare If You Don't Have a Family Doctor
For non-emergency healthcare, you can use a Vancouver Walk-in Clinic. Walk-in Clinics don't require an appointment (though you should make one; wait-times can be several hours). If you don't yet have a family doctor and you are ill or need an annual exam, pap smear, prostate exam, prescription, or similar, you can make an appointment with a Walk-in Clinic.
For emergencies, call 9-1-1 for an ambulance or go to the emergency room/urgent care at any of these Vancouver hospitals: Vancouver General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, University of B.C., Lions Gate Hospital, BC Women's Hospital.
How to Find a Doctor Accepting New Patients
The biggest hurdle in finding a family doctor is finding one who is accepting new patients. There are several strategies you can employ to find a new doctor:
- Ask at a Walk-in Clinic: I found my family doctor by asking doctors at a Walk-in Clinic in my neighborhood if they knew any doctors who were accepting new patients.
- Search online via the College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia
- Search online via the Vancouver BC Doctor Directory
- If your family doctor is retiring or leaving Vancouver, be sure to ask 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.