I spent last week on an elective within the network of Community Health Centres in Toronto. Issues regularly addressed include homelessness, substance abuse, sex work and healthcare access for immigrants and refugees. The CHCs actually function using interdisciplinary teams of social workers, nurse practioners, physicians, housing workers, harm reduction workers and midwives. I learned about functional teams; I actually saw these teams consult on patients on a daily basis. I saw plans created for patients that addressed short-term and long-term needs. Physicians paid on salary could spend between 15 minutes and 1 hour with a patient.
The experience was incredible for many reasons, including the personalities of the doctors I worked with. They were grounded, honest, reasonable, pragmatic, helpful and kind. They also practiced excellent medicine. They were collaborative and interactive on teams; they seemed to value input from other disciplines. All of this served as an excellent example of community medicine that I hope will carry me through the harder points of clerkship next year.