Family doctors and nurse practitioners, and general physicians or general practitioners (GPs) are usually the first clinicians to see a patient, diagnose and treat health problems.
If you need to see a specialist, your family clinician or a GP usually has to provide you with a referral. They can also order laboratory tests, x-rays, ultrasounds and other medical tests to determine whether or not you need to be seen by a specialist. Family clinicians -- doctors or nurse practitioners -- also keep a patient's medical history on file in their base clinics.
Finding a Family Doctor or Nurse Practitioner
After applying for the PEI Health Card, you should contact the Provincial Patient Registry Program. This service assists people who move to PEI or relocate within the province in finding a family doctor or nurse practitioner. You and your family will be put on a list, and contacted when a clinician is assigned to you. [See Related Resources]
There is usually a waiting list for a family clinician in PEI. After you are registered, you might be able to find one sooner if you:
- Ask friends or relatives to check with their family doctor or nurse practitioner if he or she is taking new patients
- Look up local physicians or nurse practitioners and contact them directly
- Ask any general practitioner with whom you come in contact if they are taking new patients
Health Clinics and Centres
If you have a non-emergency health problem while you are on the waiting list for a family clinician, or even if you have one, but cannot arrange an immediate appointment with your family clinic, you can go to a walk-in clinic for medical attention. [See Related Resources]
Walk-in clinics operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, and there is no need to arrange an appointment. Registration usually starts about half an hour before the clinic opens. You can register in person or, for some of the walk-in clinics, online using the 'Skip the Waiting Room' online service. There is a small fee if you register online. A clinic might close early if the maximum patient capacity has been reached.
Primary Care Networks and Health Centres
Primary care includes physician offices and health centres located in five primary care networks across the province. It covers a broad range of health services including diagnosis, treatment, education, disease prevention, and screening.
Each network has a team of health care professionals including family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, diabetes educators, licensed practical nurses, and clerical staff. Some networks also have dietitians and mental health workers. [See Related Resources]