Urgent Care Fills a Niche or Two

Of the many options for primary health care, urgent care fills a niche for both patient convenience and the rerouting of care needs. Between the packed appointment schedules of primary care physicians and the long waits at the emergency department, urgent care has recently emerged as one of the fastest growing segments in health care. This has created more options for nurses seeking alternatives to traditional clinical roles.

What to Expect from Urgent Care

Urgent care clinics offer walk-in care for a wide variety of non-life-threatening but urgent needs. These clinicians see a little of everything; therefore, nurses working there must have strong assessment skills, IV start and phlebotomy skills, excellent problem-solving skills, and adaptability. A comfort level with patients of all ages is critical, as urgent care centers treat illnesses along the entire lifespan.

Who Works in Urgent Care?

Nurses typically work directly under a physician assistant or nurse practitioner in urgent care because medical doctors will focus on the most complex cases. There are similarities to working in a hospital but without the interruptions from the ancillary services that may appear on a given unit.

Many centers have an in-house lab, and the nurse may be responsible for obtaining and preparing specimen samples for testing. There is often a radiology suite on-site as well for ordered diagnostic films. Cases that are more complex are referred either to the ED or, if not as urgent, to specialists for further follow up.

Where Can Urgent Care be Found?

Urgent care centers can be freestanding or attached to an affiliated hospital. One of the most appealing factors about working in these centers is that the hours are often more predictable and the likelihood of burnout is lower than on busy patient floors or in emergency departments.

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Elizabeth Binsfield, BA, RN

Elizabeth Binsfield, BA, RN, has been a Virginia registered nurse for over twenty years. She's also been writing in some fashion since she was a child. Today she combines both of her passions by writing about health and wellness for the industry and the consumer. She lives on a small hobby farm with her husband and a varying number of animals.
Elizabeth Binsfield, BA, RN
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