‘Doc Talk’ opens a conversation with patients


The St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network is looking to bridge the gap between patients and doctors through its new speaking series, ‘Doc Talk’.

Shanlyn Cunningham, spokesperson for the local Primary Care Network (PCN), said this is the first time the network has offered a series like this.

“The point of this campaign is to bring awareness to different topics that are important to us,” she said. “Our biggest goal is awareness and to educate people about the Primary Care Network in St. Albert.”

There will be three sessions to run monthly at the PCN which is located at St. Albert Centre. The first session on Tuesday, More is Not Always Better, will dive into why over-testing can do more harm than good.

Dr. David Ryan, a physician at Rivercrest Medical Clinic who will be giving the talk, said many people think getting blood tests and cancer screenings on a regular basis leads to better health outcomes.

“There are people who find it hard to understand, they think doing more and more testing, as much as we can, is going to improve health care,” he said. “But we have fantastic evidence telling us that doing more appropriate focused testing for the right clinical reason is far better for patient health outcome.”

Ryan said research has shown that it’s better to do tests and screenings based on risk factors and age. That means only people who are at a high risk of developing cancer and who are in a certain age range should be screened.

He said getting tested regularly when it’s unnecessary only causes anxiety in patients that could have been avoided. He said research has shown that cancer is found at an equal rate among patients who were screened regularly and patients who only were screened when they were at high risk and in a certain age demographic.

Ryan is involved with the national organization, Choosing Wisely, which focuses on this issue.

Physicians at the organization recommend eliminating annual tests, which include: breast cancer examinations, pap tests and annual checkups.

In order to help people understand the full concept, he’s encouraging people to come to the first Doc Talk on Tuesday. People can ask questions after the presentation.

“I’m really excited about (Doc Talk). I think it will have a really good health impact on the community,” he said.

The other Doc Talk sessions will be in March and another in April.

The second session will be the importance of developing relationships with your family physician, and the last will be what the PCN does for the community. They will be offered by different doctors.

Cunningham, who created the series, said she wanted to tackle common questions people have surrounding the PCN.

She chose to do the second session around what happens in the doctor’s office. The second session encourages people to not only get a family doctor, but also build a relationship with them.

“I think even more important than (getting a family doctor) is establishing that relationship with them so you feel comfortable, and there’s a mutual respect between you and your physician.”

She said it can be difficult for patients to openly talk about their health concerns when a trusting relationship doesn’t exist.

The two first sessions build into the last one, which focuses on the services provided by the PCN.

Cunningham said sometimes people are confused about what the PCN is and what it does.

For more information or to register for Doc Talk visit: https://www.saspcn.com/event/doc-talk-more-is-not-always-better/.


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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.