I think a degree of collaboration is essential to being a good physician. When doctors work together, they help each other immensely.
Dr. Michel Chiasson
For Dr. Michel Chiasson, a family physician in Cheticamp, N.S., collaborative care is more than just a practice model – it’s a way of life.
“Collaborative practice means the best possible care for my patients,” said Dr. Chiasson.
“I did a family practice rotation in Cheticamp when I was in medical school and it made such a positive impression,” he said.
“I remember thinking, ‘This system works. The doctors here are happy. I want to be happy.”
Living in Cheticamp and working in a collaborative practice allows Dr. Chiasson to balance patient care with family life, professional development and community involvement as a hockey and soccer coach.
The term “community involvement” also applies to how – and where – Dr. Chiasson practises medicine. Collaborative care means that he works in multiple places, with multiple health-care providers.
“I don’t just practice in my clinic,” he said. “I also conduct the youth health centre at the local school, visit the nursing home and do home visits. I even visit the local Buddhist monastery.”
His work puts him in daily contact with the three other family physicians at his clinic, as well as specialists, nurses and nurse practitioners, pharmacists and occupational therapists – among others.
“You really need to have a good team, and we have a wonderful team here in Cheticamp,” said Dr. Chiasson.
Cultivating good relationships has a direct impact on patient care.
“Knowing and trusting your colleagues is huge,” said Dr. Chiasson. “The nurses know the patients and they have input into treatment plans. The patients see that we get along and trust us more as a result, and because we’re open to hearing from everyone, the patients get better continuity of care.”
But living in a rural community does have its challenges.
“Because we’re not in a city, it’s a real battle to get people to get patients in to see a specialist like a cardiologist, ENT or orthopedic surgeon,” said Dr. Chiasson. Cheticamp is more than a two-hour drive away from Sydney, so a specialist appointment can be costly and inconvenient. “It means a long drive, spending money on gas and food, potentially missing a day of work.”
So instead of sending patients to Sydney, Dr. Chiasson and his colleagues invite specialists to Cheticamp.
It’s a working relationship that benefits both parties.
“I think a degree of collaboration is essential to being a good physician,” said Dr. Chiasson. “Working in isolation is to the physician’s detriment…which becomes the patient’s detriment. When doctors work together, they help each other immensely – you can consult on challenging cases, pass on things you’ve learned.
“Working [with other health-care professionals] helps me make sure that we’re making the right diagnosis and deciding on the right treatments,” said Dr. Chiasson. “It helps me figure out who else can help me help my patients, so that we can make sure their care is optimized.”
Wondering what it looks like to practise medicine in Cheticamp? Watch our video about Dr. Chiasson.