Wednesday, January 18, 2017

All in the Family

During the summer, I had the pleasure of working at a Family Health Team (FHT) in the heart of downtown Toronto. Based on my experiences there, I truly believe that the level and quality of care from a FHT cannot be paralleled to any other, more traditional healthcare model.

There are currently 184 FHTs in Ontario, which serve over 3 million people in over 200 rural and suburban communities. FHTs aim to enhance patient access to comprehensive primary care services from various healthcare providers (HCP). Each FHT has an interdisciplinary team, which typically includes physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, dietitians and other allied health professionals.  

Within this ambulatory setting, patients are seen by appointment. During my practice, chronic disease management (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, COPD), warfarin dosing, treatment of short-term illnesses (e.g. UTI) and obstetrical care were most commonly encountered on a daily basis. Certain FHTs also provide specialized services, such as smoking cessation, telemedicine and substance abuse clinics. However, the availability of these services is contingent upon the population the FHT serves. 

As a pharmacy student, my role at the FHT was multifaceted and highly collaborative. In addition to providing medication reviews and patient counseling, I became a valuable drug information resource for other members of the team. I also provided extensive medication management to several complex patients, as part of the home-visit program. 

Overall, my time at the FHT was both incredibly satisfying and rewarding. The rapid turnover of patients made each day a fresh and exciting clinical challenge. Furthermore, my communication, therapeutic and leadership skills rapidly flourished within the academic environment. Looking ahead, I really hope that the FHT model will be adopted by many other jurisdictions, so that essential health care services can be readily accessible by all.

Contact your local FHT to see if you are eligible to enroll in their patient roster!