Urgent care centers have become more and more popular over the past decade. However, if you have been lucky enough not to need urgent medical treatment during this time, you may not have visited one before. This FAQ guide should answer the questions you may have before your first time visiting an urgent care center.
1. What is it like inside an urgent care center?
Many people picture urgent care centers as being like hospitals, but they feel more like a small doctor's office inside. There's typically a spacious waiting area with a few receptionists' desks along one side. There's a door you go through when it's your turn to be seen and a few separate treatment rooms in the hall past that door. There may also be a few separate rooms for equipment like X-ray machines. Overall, the atmosphere tends to be calm and composed. Seriously injured and ill patients are encouraged to go to the emergency room, not urgent care, so you probably won't have to wait with anyone who is in too poor of shape.
2. Do you need to make an appointment?
No. The beauty of urgent care centers is that you can walk right in. Some do allow you to call and make an appointment for a few hours in the future, but this is not necessary.
3. Do urgent care centers take insurance?
Yes! Most aim to work with as many insurance companies as possible so that you are not surprised by a lack of coverage when you show up. Urgent care centers also accept cash and credit card payments, so if you are uninsured or prefer to pay out-of-pocket, that's an option. Payment is usually due upfront if you choose this route.
4. Is the care provided by doctors?
Often, urgent care centers have one doctor on staff at all times, and the rest of the practitioners are often nurse practitioners and nurses. Rest assured; if the nurse assigned to your case is not able to handle something, they will call in the doctor. Nurse practitioners are trained to diagnose and treat common issues that present at urgent care centers, such as stitches, sprained joints, and the flu.
Urgent care centers are so much more convenient than the emergency room when you're dealing with an urgent, but not life-threatening illness or ailment. Now that you know a bit more about these centers, head on in for care as needed.