Family doctors at the frontline of health care

Dr. Nadine Arsenault-Samson

For Summerside doctor Nadine Arsenault-Samson, family medicine is the way she can profoundly improve the lives and outcomes of people in her care.

Family Doctor Day is recognized on May 19 each year to to celebrate family physicians and the important work they do caring for and improving the health and well-being of their patients.   

“The family physician serves a varied population. We see patients from birth to old age and death, and we follow generations of patients as well,” Dr. Arsenault-Samson says. “Family physicians typically are the baseline of primary health care. We’re the way into the health care system for a lot of patients.”

Arsenault-Samson said as a family doctor she develops a close professional and personal connection with patients, which can be somewhat different from that of a specialist who looks after a particular area like the heart or the lungs or is asked to address a specific health challenge. She said a big part of her job is supporting patients in both sickness and health.  

“We become the patient’s advocate in the system and collaborate with other professionals. The continuity and broader perspective we offer is very valuable in helping someone monitor their health.” 

James Aylward, Minister of Health and Wellness, said Prince Edward Island’s family physicians perform a vital role.

“The relationship between a health provider and patient is the foundation of health care. We owe so much to front-line providers who promote the well-being of Islanders.” - Hon. James Aylward, Minister of Health and Wellness

Arsenault-Samson said she and her colleagues bring a great deal of education and experience to their work and take responsibility for the medical care of patients, ensuring follow-up and transition in care. She said her work lets her use the wide-ranging interests she developed as a medical student.

“As I went through my education and my medicine program I realized I had a lot of different interests. I love pediatrics, I love palliative care, I love geriatrics. Family medicine allows me to do all of that.” 

“The big piece is that a family physician provides continuity and comprehensive care for their patients.  Even in just 13 years of practice, I have worked with families that I follow through generations. It’s a privileged role that a family doctor has in a patient’s life.”

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