Boosting patient access a priority for the new President of Doctors Nova Scotia

Dr. Tim Holland, of Truro, N.S., was installed as Doctors Nova Scotia’s President during the association’s annual conference on Saturday, June 9, 2018 in Sydney.

He may be just five years out of residency, but Dr. Holland is a seasoned expert when it comes to patient needs in Nova Scotia.

“I may have worked in more emergency departments than any other doctor in the province,” he says with a smile. “I worked from Yarmouth to Neil’s Harbour when I was part of the Rural Emergency Locum program.”

Province-wide perspective

That meant working anywhere from one night to one week at emergency departments in communities across the province, covering shifts so physicians could take needed time off.

“One of the toughest parts of working in the emergency department is diagnosing a deadly illness like cancer that could have been caught if the patient had a family doctor,” he recalls.

Seeing what patients were experiencing because of doctor shortages inspired Dr. Holland to advocate for better patient access to family doctors.

“I came to appreciate the difference between people who have a family doctor and those who don’t,” he says. “I’ve seen how much it effects the entire province. People without a family doctor are essentially left out of health care..”

Boosting primary care access

In the role of President, he wants to boost patient access to family doctors. That means Doctors Nova Scotia working with other health care stakeholders to improve the practice environment for doctors in Nova Scotia. Not only will that help recruit more doctors, but it will also help retain the doctors already working in the province.

Dr. Holland graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 2011 and completed his family medicine residency in 2013. He practices emergency medicine at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, family medicine part time at the Sipekne’katik Health Centre in Indian Brook and at the Newcomer Health Clinic (formerly the Transitional Health Clinic for Refugees) in Halifax that he co-founded in 2014.

Health care advocacy

He’s held several leadership roles during his career, including Chief Resident of Dalhousie Family Medicine and Associate-Chief Resident of Dalhousie Family Medicine Halifax-Site.

A member of Doctors Nova Scotia’s Policy and Health Issues Committee (PHIC) since 2014, Dr. Holland became co-chair of the committee in 2016. He was a member of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Working Group in 2015–16 and the Primary Care Policy Working Group in 2016–17. In 2016, he was elected to the association’s Board of Directors and elected as Chair of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association.

No one left out

His background in advocacy and his experience providing care in multiple settings across the province, will serve Dr. Holland well in the role of President.

“It’s important to me that nobody gets left out of health care, whether they are refugees, first nations people or end-of-life patients seeking Medical Assistance in Dying. I want to improve primary care so that every Nova Scotian has a family doctor.”


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Submitted By: Anita Sulley

We are so happy to have you take on this role. So many of us without a family doctor and are desperate to have one, are relieved to have you take on this role. The idea of changing the working environment for Family Doctors makes sense.

Submitted By: Joan Hillier

I agree.There are so many people without a family doctor & I am one of them since my GP retired.For the first time in my adult life,I do not have a family doctor.I was followed by the same doctor foe 33 years.I have a complicated medical history & am on a complicated regimen of medications.I’m also required to have regular bloodwork,but now no one is receiving/checking the results.Visits to walk-in clinics even just to get my medications is very difficult to say the least!I am sure I am only one of many in this situation.So,what is someone like me supposed to do?I am hoping that you will be able to make some badly needed improvements that will both help to retain the doctors we have & will attract more doctors to our province..

Submitted By: Doctors Nova Scotia

Thanks for your comment, Joan. Sorry to hear about your difficult situation. If you’ve not already done so, make sure that you are on the waitlist for a family doctor. This is how the Nova Scotia Health Authority links patients needing a family doctor to doctors who are accepting patients in your community. You can sign up by calling 811 or by visiting:
It’s a priority for us to continue advocating the provincial government to improve access to family doctors in this province. You can help by calling your MLA’s office and telling them your story and sharing your concerns, and also requesting that they make doctor recruitment a priority. Best of luck.

Submitted By: Nellie Moody

My husband has been in pain for 5 years now they don’t know what is wrong with him and now it takes another 3 years to get into seeing a pain specialist, he is now off work because of this , he has work for 40 years and paid taxes and now no help!

Submitted By: Susan Doyle

For the first time in my 57 1/2 years of life, I have no family doctor. Earlier this year, I had two heart attacks. My cardiologist told me, “You have to get a family doctor!” Really?!!? No joking. I have been actively looking since we received word of our GP’s impending retirement. My husband and I both have multiple health issues that need regular care and monitoring. We are now left to walk-in clinics and the E.R. at the hospital. Very sad situation to find ourselves in, for sure…and there does not appear to be a light (doctor) at the end of the tunnel.