I recently read with some interest the president’s message in the January edition of the British Columbia College of Family Physicians’ News. There, Susan Knoll, the current president, is extolling the virtues of family medicine. She quotes from Warren Jones, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, who said last year “We need to get the swagger back in our step. We need to tell our young people that if they want to make a lot of money go into business. If they want to make a difference join my specialty!” She concludes with the comment that family physicians are “called” to the specialty and that “You cannot put this into a fee schedule. This is our reward and we are blessed to receive this.” I do not share Dr Knoll’s altruistic view on family medicine. I am a so-called full-service family physician working in Mission. The other day I had a fairly typical day, which included ward rounds in the morning, a typical mixture of young and old patients in the office, some of whom needed counseling. I had one visit to the emergency room, and I ended my day at around 5:50 p.m. after making a number of phone calls on behalf of patients. I went home feeling I had done a hard day’s work and I calculated that after paying my office overhead my rate would be approximately $66 per hour. I also work an occasional weekend shift in a walk-in clinic in Mission. There I show up at 1:00 p.m. and I leave shortly after 5:00 p.m. I do not have to make any phone calls, I do not have hospital responsibilities during that 4 hours. I left feeling quite refreshed and not in any way stressed. My rate for that work comes to $138 per hour!
Until and unless we make family medicine more attractive financially to young graduates we are not going to restore its place as an attractive specialty for tomorrow’s young doctors.
—G. Henderson, MB
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