If you’ve ever wanted to know more about walk in clinics, the quality of care you’ll receive from them, and when it’s appropriate to see them, you’ve come to the right place. Essentially, a walk in clinic is any clinic that will treat you regardless of whether or not you have an appointment. These may be an urgent care center, retail clinic, and even an emergency room. Assuming you can pay or have insurance (with the exception of an emergency room), you can expect to be seen and treated.
A retail clinic is just a walk in clinic generally found inside of a larger retail store. They are more commonly found in stores which also feature a pharmacy. These clinics are usually designed to be as affordable and efficient as possible. Thus, the staff typically consists of mostly physician assistants or nurse practitioners in place of more expensive physicians. They tend to take a greater focus on less critical and less advanced medical procedures as opposed to an urgent care center.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers are a step above retail clinics in that they can handle more advanced medical issues and procedures, and they are staffed and equipped accordingly. The majority of urgent care centers, for example, will typically have at least one medical doctor on their staff and the physician will be available to see patients as long as the doors are open. Urgent care centers have become a means of alleviating the burdens placed on emergency rooms, as they are equipped to handle more serious injuries.
Emergency rooms are the most well-known and understood of “walk in clinics.” They are typically open 24 hours a day and are specialized in handling severe, life-threatening illnesses and injuries which require more advanced technology and specialists to handle. An ER is required by law to take in any patients regardless of their ability to pay, so you may often see waits up to a few hours. Compare this to an urgent care clinic where you will typically only be waiting around 15 – 35 minutes.
Essentially, a walk-in clinic is a wide-encompassing term for many types of health care providers, so long as they can provide treatment without an appointment. Taking some time to know the differences between these three types of clinics will help you know where to go for appropriate treatment for your condition.