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Participants at the community conversation held in Queensport

Community Conversations about Collaborative Family Practice Teams

(Published in Nova Scotia Health's Healthier Together 2016 - 2019 Measuring Our Progress Report p. 49-50)


In 2018, we hosted 25 community conversations about collaborative family practice teams.

A collaborative family practice team includes family doctors, nurse practitioners, family practice nurses, and other health professionals working together to provide comprehensive care for patients.

More than 600 Nova Scotians attended these conversations, and another 165 people participated online.

“We moved here from Ontario. They never had community meetings about health care there,” said one participant. “I really like that you are doing this.”

The purpose of the community conversations was to hear from Nova Scotians about what they think about collaborative family practice teams as we create more and strengthen existing teams in the province.

Currently, there are more than 80 collaborative family practice teams in Nova Scotia, in various stages of development.

We also wanted to find out what we needed to know to help support these teams to be successful, for the benefit of patients.

In small groups, participants discussed what they liked about teams, what concerns they had, and shared information about their community regarding access to primary care.

Participants said that collaborative family practice teams make sense, as patients of teams have access to a number of different types of health care providers, and can see the right provider for their health care needs.

“This sounds like the most efficient use of doctors’ and nurses’ time. This will help with reducing physician burnout” said another participant.

Participants said health care providers would have a greater sense of job satisfaction when working as part of a team and providing support to each other.

Many agreed that this should help with recruitment and retention, and stability of the practice over time.

“The family practice becomes an anchor for its patients, (as) individual practitioners come and go,” said one participant. “I have confidence in the future of teams.”

There was also a lot of interest in electronic medical records that are used by teams, and how all the team members that a patient has appointments with will know their health information and be up to date on their care.

We consistently heard concerns about recruitment and retention of family doctors, and about our province’s ability to attract the family doctors that we need.

“Where do we get more providers to fill all the vacancies? We need more doctors and nurses” said another participant.

Many participants did not have a good understanding about collaborative care until they participated in a community conversation.

Participants told us that there needs to be more public education on collaborative family practice teams, the roles of different providers, and to learn more about the advantages of being a patient of a team.

“More education is needed for people to understand who they might see as a patient of one of these teams, and that they can ask to see the nurse for some things.”

As a result, we are exploring the option of a public education campaign to increase understanding of collaborative family practice teams and explain what to expect from the various providers as a patient of a team.

Participants expressed concerns about how long it will take to set up collaborative family practice teams in various communities, and how much it costs to create teams.

Participants told us that collaborative family practice teams should promote wellness, and consider all the various factors that impact health, such as age, income and social supports available in communities.

We also heard that teams need to be flexible, collaborate with existing services, and understand community needs, including geography and available transportation, which has an impact on access to care.

We appreciate all the feedback we received about collaborative family practice teams, and are incorporating what we have heard as we continue to create more and strengthen existing teams.

For more information, read the summary report of what we heard during these conversations, available at

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