Chair's Message

One of the important roles that family doctors play is in the area of prevention. The CanMEDs- FM roles allude to prevention as part of the Medical Expert, Communicator, and Health Advocate roles. The Medical Expert role challenges us to “incorporate prevention and health promotion into the clinical encounter.”

Family doctors are uniquely set up to do this effectively through our primary contact with patients before disease occurs, through our knowledge of our patients’ context, and our ability to follow patients over time in a trusting relationship.

Providing proper preventive health advice and incorporating that into each and every encounter takes time. For example, in 2003 Yarnall et al wrote that for one family physician to fully satisfy the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendations to a panel of 2500 patients would require 7.4 hours per working day, not a realistic use of time.1

Fortunately, family physicians can follow their patients over time and continuously address preventive health in multiple encounters. In addition, there are wonderful resources available to help us, such as the Prevention in Hand website of the CFPC, recently revised and updated. This website and mobile app were launched in 2015 by the CFPC in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The website includes information for the public and professionals, such as guidelines and healthy lifestyle management tools among other things. You can view these in your office during the encounter with your patients, and they can follow up on their own time and supplement your advice with their own learning.

I encourage you to have a look at this website and think about how it could help you in your daily encounters with patients, and help you to meet your obligations as the family doctor Medical Expert.

As always I welcome your feedback at or on Twitter @DOCSJW.

1. Yarnall KSH, Pollak KI, Ostbye T, Krause KM, Michener JL, Primary Care: Is there enough time for prevention? American Journal of Public Health 2003.