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  • Writer's pictureMegan Ogilvie

'Beyond crisis levels': Why Ontario doctors are fleeing family medicine

Updated: Feb 29

The Ontario Medical Association is sounding the alarm about the increasing number of family physicians leaving practice.

By Megan Ogilvie The Star

Friday, February 16, 2024

Some 2.3 million Ontarians are currently without a family doctor. That number is expected nearly double to 4.4 million by 2026, according to figures from the Ontario College of Family Physicians. Khalil Hamra The Star

Dr. Natalie Leahy is upfront about her recent decision to quit family medicine.

It was hard to walk away from her 16 years as a family doctor, she says, and even harder to say goodbye to the 1,200 patients in her Oshawa practice.

But the heavy workload and long days — made longer by the ever-increasing burden of administrative tasks — coupled with the rising financial pressures of running her practice was leading to burnout, she says.

Dr. Natalie Leahy recently closed her family practice in Oshawa due to what she describes as unsustainable financial and working conditions.

Last year, while caring for two ill family members, Leahy says the demands of her job became too much, forcing her to close her practice in September.

"It was my life's work; I loved being a family doctor. But it was no longer sustainable," said Leahy, who now works in another part of the health-care system.

"The primary-care system in Ontario is beyond crisis levels. It's the backbone of our health-care system and it's in deep, deep trouble right now."


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