Most people know that we’re approaching a bit of crisis with our healthcare system. In 2009, there was a drop in medical school seniors picking “family medicine” as their specialty. Luckily, there’s been an upswing in “convenient care” — between urgent care centers, walk-in clinics located in pharmacies, and other pop-up type clinics. Whether you have itchy eyes, a weird skin rash, or a broken wrist, you can seek out urgent care and get it checked out — no worries if you can’t get in to see your primary care physician or you’re far from home. Some urgent cares are also partnered or linked with an emergency room as well, so patients don’t have to make a split second decision on where to head — they can find the appropriate care under one roof. 

What Can Be Treated at Urgent Care? 

According to the 2016 Benchmarking Report from the Urgent Care Association of America, some of the most common diagnoses at urgent care centers in 2015 were acute upper respiratory infection, acute sinusitis, acute pharyngitis, cough, and acute bronchitis. Itchy eyes, bad allergies, abdominal pain, high fevers, minor broken bones or sprains, urinary tract infections, and other minor illnesses can all be taken care of at urgent care centers. 

Some urgent care centers may also be able to do X-rays and all can send samples off to labs for a more formal report and diagnosis, as well as prescribe the necessary medicine for you to pick up at a pharmacy. 

You might also be able to use urgent care if you need a physical or exam — whether it’s for sports, traveling abroad, or back-to-school. Do keep in mind it’s important to keep your primary care physician apprised of all developments. Urgent care shouldn’t substitute for your doctor, but they’re great in a pinch! 

Why Is Convenient Care So Important? 

Illnesses and injuries don’t wait for a convenient time — in fact, they often happen at the most inconvenient time. Convenient care allows us to handle health issues as they happen and get the care you need in the interim, before you see your doctor again. 

For example, if you have uncontrollably itchy eyes, you probably don’t want to wait however long it takes for you to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get treatment, but it’s not exactly a life-threatening emergency either. This is where urgent care comes in. 

Convenient care is designed to meet you where you’re at — with affordable prices (most urgent care centers work with various insurances), low wait times (most urgent care centers will have you seen and taken care of within an hour), and extended hours (most are open earlier or later than standard office hours and may have weekend or holiday hours as well). 

They know life doesn’t wait for you to feel better, so you shouldn’t have to wait either! Even better, there are a variety of urgent care centers all across the country, so there’s one likely very close to you. 

What are the Benefits of Having Urgent Care and Emergency Care Under One Roof? 

Generally, urgent care centers and emergency rooms operate separately. However, there’s been a bit of a shift, and some have joined forces, which is in some cases, extremely beneficial to the patient. Not all health issues are as clear cut as itchy eyes or a really bad migraine. In some cases, a patient might not be sure whether their ailment is urgent or a real emergency. 

For example, if a patient is experiencing shortness of breath, they might be unsure whether this is a symptom of something much larger that needs immediate care. In this case, having both an urgent care center and emergency room under the same roof relieves the patient of choice and lets the medical professional make that call. 

Knowing where your local urgent care center is — and taking advantage of it! — can be another excellent resource for you and your family when you need urgent medical care.