Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to some of the questions that you have may be found in our FAQ section… please let us know of any suggestions to be added to the list.

We believe it is important to train medical students, because none of us are getting any younger.  We need to have doctors to look after us in our old age.

Every third year medical students does a four week urban family practice rotation.  There are about 180 in each year- only a few go through our clinic.  Many of them have not yet fully decided what they are going to do.  In some cases they are inspired to pursue family practice.  Others have decided on particular specialties, and it is a good thing that they get to see how family doctors work, and the sorts of problems that family doctors deal with, as they move forward in their training.

Family practice residents are further along- finishing up their training as they ready to be family doctors themselves.  They are getting ready to be independent, but they have a different perspective on the practice.  They may be learning how to organize their time, noticing how practices are run, getting a feel for community resources and connections, and learning how to deal with billing and other issues.

In all cases they bring with them enthusiasm, and lecture and study knowledge which may be more up to date than that of your family doctor.   (It has been said that ideally you should have an old lawyer, and a young doctor!)  The students and residents are meeting people living in the community- quite different from the populations of sick hospital inpatients that they have seen before.  Sometimes they are surprised to meet someone 95+ years old, spry and active.

Often times patients appreciate the time that the students take with them.  And learn how problems are worked through, as they listen to the discussions between learners and family physicians.

The Ermineskin Clinic has been recognized as an exceptional teaching site by the Department of Family Medicine.

It depends how you define it, but strictly speaking, no.  There are studies that show that people who are seen every year for a complete/comprehensive checkup do not live any longer, over the following 10 or 13 years.  The “annual checkup” is being replaced with the periodic health exam.  What does that mean?

If you are young and healthy, you probably do not need to see a doctor every year for a complete checkup- but does that mean that you do not need to be seen at all?

-If you are young and healthy, you might want to see a family doctor so that if/when you get sick, someone knows who you are, your background, some of your values on the  chance that something might go wrong.  Asking about cigarettes, family history risks, and having life style choices reviewed bas benefit.  Perhaps every three or five years it might be worthwhile to have your blood pressure checked,  you get to know the office routine, and the doctor and  his/her staff know who you are.

-If you are sexually active, being seen periodically for STD screening tests or paps tests has value- annually perhaps, and probably more often than every three to five years.

-If you are older than forty, we start screening for diabetes.

-At 50 other tests- bowel cancer tests (annually or every two years), and for women- mammograms, are recommended.

-If you are diabetic, periodic blood sugar control assessments and annual foot and eye exams are recommended.

-if you are on multiple medications for different conditions, assessing side effects, drug interactions, treatment effectiveness has some value.  As we age, we may bot metabolize the medication as quickly, and the dose may need to be reduced.

A periodic health exam is a time for many of these items to be addressed, medications reviewed, and for your doctor to look for signs of any other serious illness. Ideally the health overview and recommended screening tests are not lost amid long lists of minor complaints that have been saved up for the past three months.

Seeing the doctor twice a year, once for a sprained ankle and once for a sore throat is not the same as a periodic health exam/review.  Seeing acute problems quickly in a busy practice, your doctor may not have the time to be able to go over the recommendations for the things that may be due.

This spring (March 2019) Alberta Health launched myhealth.alberta.ca.  For those who have signed up and authenticated their identities, many lab results are available to see online, with logging in.  This changes what we have been doing.  Doctors have been sending messages to patients with email addresses on file, letting them access individual results through a Medeo account.  This is a little cumbersome, as some doctors review 30-70 results every day.

Currently at this time we do not have any doctors accepting new patients.  Please check back as this changes over time.

The short answer is no.  The provincial strategy has been to make flu shots available in pharmacies across the city, and at public health clinics.  With ready availability elsewhere, we are no longer organizing separate flu shot clinics.

This is a difficult question, because it depends on your health circumstances, and the medication.  Sometimes your pharmacist is able to advance a month’s supply of a medication, until you can come in to be reassessed.  Our primary aim is to deliver excellent medical service.

Medications are tailored to the individual:

-Blood pressure medications-  while you may have been on them for years, your physician has an obligation to periodically check your blood pressure to make sure medications are working, and that you do not have any side effects.

-Birth control medications-  although they may be working well, pap tests are necessary at regular intervals.  Your doctor may have given you a year’s supply, so that you won’t miss an important screening test.  Or three month’s supply of a new prescription, wanting to see you in follow up to make sure that everything is working well

-Diabetes and thyroid medication- periodic tests are necessary for optimal care.  These conditions need to be monitored.

-Chronic pain medication or sleeping pills- the College of Physicians and Surgeons has set a Standard of Practice- patients need to be reassessed at specified intervals, and doctors are to check Netcare to ensure medication is being taken as prescribe.

-Long term medications when the refills have expired.  There is a reason that prescriptions expire after 18 months.  Even if things are going well, it would be bad medicine for your doctor to give you 2-5-10 years of medication, and never reassess you!

-NB- sometimes people feel that they were just seen- for a sore throat, or for something minor- so why do they need to come in again?  When seen for a “quick visit” for something “minor”, your doctor may not have the time to fully review your chart to see what might be overdue.

Every request that is faxed in from the pharmacy is considered- your doctor opens your file, and tries to determine if any tests or follow up is due. After that, a prescription is faxed to the pharmacy.  This is not covered by your insurance plan.  There is a $25 charge for this service.  Sometimes patients get upset, being unaware that the pharmacy has faxed in a request, or are unhappy about being charged.  When a pharmacy faxes in a request on your behalf, we assume that you are aware of it.

Alberta Health gives an annual per capita payment to the Primary Care Networks.  Each PCN determines how the money is to be spent on patient care, with the network.  For the Edmonton South Side Primary Care Network, a percentage is held back for administration and centralized services (eg- different patient group programs offered at the PCN hub), and some is put put into a ‘spending account’ to fund health teams at individual clinics.  If you are a patient at Ermineskin (through a formula- where did you have your last physical examination where do you get most of your care) the money provides services including our nurse practitioner, registered nurse, behavioural health consultant, etc.  If you have not been to the clinic for several years, no funds flow in.  PCNs also examine where there are societal gaps in care, and try to fix/improve things.  (Recently there have been medical education talks on cannabis as medication, and on helping people with drug abuse problems.  )

A panel is the population of patients that get their care from a family physician.  Alberta Health assigns people to a doctor based on different criteria including where one has last had a complete checkup, where one gets most of one’s care from, which doctor you saw last.  If a doctor has a good idea of who makes up his/her panel, decisions can be made as to what resources are most needed and what strategies are necessary to provide the best care to that panel.  (If I have a lot of diabetic patients, then a diabetic nurse might be worthwhile.  If my patient population is very young, then putting resources into the care of the elderly or cognitive screening for dementia might be less useful.)  If I know who my patients are, I can keep track of who is overdue for a FIT test, a cholesterol screen, a mammogram, etc.  If someone is not on my panel, then my time checking what is overdue for them is better spent on people who are returning to see me.  There are calculations to determine what an ideal panel size is, for the hours I have available in the office.  If my panel is too big/the demand is too high, then people have to wait longer to get in to be seen/have their medical care attended to.  That is one reason that doctors close practices to new patients- they are already at capacity.

If you have not seen your doctor in five or seven years, when you call up for an appointment you may find that you are no longer on the panel.  Additionally, funds for PCN services have not been paid in on your behalf.  PCN services help people in need.

Alberta Health currently has patient panel projects going on.  One aim is to ensure that everyone who wants/needs to, has a family doctor.  Research has shown that people with a family doctor spend less time in hospital, and require fewer hospital visits. Patient panels help determine where new doctors are needed.

Make an appointmentThere are two ways to book an appointment at the Ermineskin Medical Clinic – Talking to our medical office assistants on the phone 780-436-8731 or online using a Medeo account. The first step is to have your email on our clinic file.  Please note that online bookings are reserved for shorter appointments.