Urgent Care Careers

Friendly nurse examining patient in hospital triage center,
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Urgent care is the field of medicine that involves treating acute medical issues that are not serious enough (or "emergent") to need emergency care. Urgent medicine physicians provide convenient care for patients who can't get into their primary care physician for any reason. Most urgent care physicians are trained in primary care, either family medicine or internal medicine. There are many similarities between urgent care and primary care, but urgent care physicians don't provide ongoing treatment for chronic medical needs.

Urgent Care Practice Environment

Most urgent care treatment is provided in an outpatient office type of setting. Sometimes urgent care facilities are also referred to as "immediate med" or "doc-in-the-box". Office hours for urgent care are often longer and later than office hours for traditional physician offices. Most are open 12 hours a day. Some urgent care offices are open during the weekend.

Typical Work Week for Urgent Care

Urgent care docs will see about 25-30 patients per day, and work 40-50 hours per week if full-time. Patients may come in for a variety of urgent issues that can be diagnosed with basic tests and treated quickly and easily with minor procedures or medication. Coughs and colds, lumps and bumps, minor infections or injuries are all things that may be treated via urgent care. If the diagnosis is something chronic or serious, the urgent care physician may send the patient on to the hospital for emergency care if needed, or to a specialist, or back to a primary care physician for chronic or ongoing medical needs.

How to Become an Urgent Care Physician

Working in urgent care doesn't typically entail any additional or specialized training on top of the training one receives as a primary care physician. If you become fully trained as a physician in family medicine or internal medicine, you are qualified to practice urgent care.

Why Urgent Care? What's to Like about Urgent Care

Many people who work in urgent care like the immediate nature of it - they like the quick turn-around after a patient comes into an office. Patients come in with an issue and usually, leave with a fix of some sort. Physicians like being able to resolve medical issues in one visit and send the patient on their way and urgent care is often not as stressful or demanding as emergency medicine. Therefore, urgent care is a great "middle ground" for people who are torn between primary care and emergency medicine.

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