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What to Expect When You Go to Urgent Care

Urgent care centers have been built all over the country, and new ones are going up all the time. Despite the fact that it’s easy to find urgent care facilities, many people have not yet tried one. One reason for this reticence may simply be the discomfort that comes when you don’t know what will happen when you walk in. So what can you expect when you visit a walk in clinic?

What Is an Urgent Care Clinic?

To understand what you will expect, you should know what it is you’re visiting. Urgent care centers fill the gap between hospital emergency rooms and your family doctor’s office. Sometimes it’s not convenient to see your doctor because your condition needs immediate treatment and you can’t wait for regular office hours or put things off until Monday. An emergency room, on the other hand, can have long wait times and be enormously expensive. Emergency rooms are not designed to care for colds and flu, respiratory issues, skin conditions like poison ivy exposure, minor sports injuries, or other medical needs that need immediate attention but or not life-threatening. People suffering from these more minor issues have to wait while more serious conditions get priority treatment. The emergency room is the place to visit for breathing problems, chest pains, signs of a stroke, or other serious and life-threatening conditions.

Is Urgent Care Worth It?

There are a lot of good reasons to visit an urgent care facility. The wait times are far lower than anything you are likely to experience at your hospital emergency room. Approximately 60% of urgent care centers have wait times of less than 15 minutes, and 65% have a doctor on site at all times. A survey by the Urgent Care Association of America found that 57% of urgent care clinic visitors waited 15 minutes or less to be seen, and 80% of visitors had a waiting time of less than an hour. The average emergency room wait time is an hour and 15 minutes. Additionally, urgent care services are available at hours when your doctor’s office is usually closed. Almost 67% of walk-in clinics open before 9 AM and nearly half are open on Saturday. A third are also open on Sunday, and more than 90% of urgent care locations stay open until at least 7 PM on weeknights. Two out of five are open until 9 o’clock or later.

What Should I Expect When I Get There?

Unlike a doctor’s office, you do not need an appointment to visit an urgent care facility. Here’s what you are likely to experience:

  • A check-in procedure. When you arrive, the receptionist will give you a series of forms to fill out. These will help the medical team to understand your medical history and get details about your condition and any allergies they need to be cautious about. You should also bring any insurance information that you have for the checking process, as well as information about any medications or supplements you take.
  • A visit with a medical professional. After you check in, a nurse will take a look at you and assess your condition. This allows the physician or resident to treat you as quickly as possible. Once the preliminary assessment is done, you can expect to see a physician without much delay.
  • A clear and smooth send-off. Once the physician has made her diagnosis, you will be given whatever you need to help you recover. Someone will be on hand to provide you with prescriptions and explain to you how the medication works and anything you need to be careful of as you take it. If you have any questions, they can be addressed at this time. The whole process should take no more than an hour. Then you’re on your way home to focus on recovery.

There are a lot of good reasons to visit an urgent care near you. If you need medical help that is more convenient than the doctor’s office and faster and less expensive than waiting in an emergency room, look for an urgent care clinic in your area.

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