What Types of Physicians Work in Urgent Care?

Urgent care access is on the rise, increasing to over 8,000 new facilities in 2018. Urgent care clinics are more capable and trained than your average clinics. You’ll find various types of physicians that specialize in treating patients with serious conditions.

Urgent Care Clinic Is A Better Option To ER

On top of being staffed with more doctors on-hand, urgent care facilities are structured differently. They prioritize efficiency and severity of conditions to move patients as quickly through the process. It’s because of this efficiency that urgent care clinics offer a better alternative to going to the E.R.

Let’s take a deeper look into how urgent care providers work.

Types of Urgent Care Physicians

Urgent care centers are essentially doctor-driven offices. 94% of urgent care facilities in the nation have one full-time doctor. On top of that, numerous urgent care centers are open and run by doctors. A few states have even passed laws that require urgent care centers to be under the ownership of doctors rather than medical firms.

The doctors that work at urgent care facilities often have some expertise in family practice and the ER. The doctor that you see will either be a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). These two types of urgent care physicians have the same academic foundations and experience.

An osteopathic doctor has extra knowledge for treating common, serious physical injuries. This allows them to assess breaks, internal bleeding, and other urgent musculoskeletal conditions.

Smaller clinics might get by with an only one full-time doctor, while busier centers may utilize various full-time doctors. Moreover, your urgent care site may utilize a few low maintenance doctors that work in nearby facilities but stay on-call. You may see a specialist from your local hospital or clinic working at your nearby urgent care facility.

Urgent care centers may likewise utilize locum tenens doctors to staff their office. Locum tenens are temp doctors who work for certain timeframes at healthcare associations everywhere throughout the nation. These doctors differ only by name and urgent care clinics regularly employ them to fill staffing holes.

Others use locum tenens to increase their staff amid patient surges, for example, influenza season or sudden outbreaks. Unvaccinated children have been causing pockets of viral outbreaks around the country.

types of physicians

Non-Physician Providers

82% of doctors described themselves as at capacity or stretched thin. This is why you are more likely to see PAs or RNs first at an urgent care facility. These assistants are capable and experienced enough to diagnose and prescribe treatments.

When it comes to physician’s assistants, they have a license to examine, diagnose, and draw up treatment plans. Then, all they need is a doctor is sign off if a specialist is recommended or major surgery, for example.

Nurse practitioners can perform many of the same duties as doctors. They administer treatments, prescribe medications, and provide advanced care when needed. There are some differences between LPNs and RNs, with RNs carrying the most formal training.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants help tremendously when it comes to cost and capacity. Urgent care cost is night and day compared to an emergency room visit. This is good news for the countless patients that stumble in with non-life-threatening conditions.

To the patient, a lot of bleeding or severe pain may seem like an emergency to them. Once they get in the doors, though, urgent care clinics can diagnose the situation fast. Allowing the RN or PA quickly administer care without getting a doctor involved is a win-win situation.

The patent goes home with a fraction of the cost of going to the ER. The urgent care clinic saves valuable time and efficiently treats patients in waiting.

In-House Specialists

Urgent care clinics increase their efficiency and capacity by staffing multiple specialists. They often exist as temporary roles, but they help to provide care similar to a hospital. In some cases, your wait time is much less than what you would experience at a hospital.

X-ray Technicians

All urgent care centers have their own x-ray equipment and technician. This allows assistants to receive results in less time to pass onto doctors. The cost of x-rays is often a fraction of what you’ll pay at a hospital emergency room.

Plastic Surgeons

An urgent care clinic may need a plastic surgeon on-hand to repair major facial damage. Plastic surgeons aren’t only used for beautification purposes. They are important companions for patients undergoing major surgeries.
Front Desk/Administration

The first people you interact with need to have the tools and experience to ask and answer hard questions. Without these important members of urgent care staff, the physicians would get swamped quickly. In a way, the front desk is the real triage, if they are experienced and aren’t afraid of critical situations.


Having a pharmacist on-hand at urgent care clinics reduces errors in prescriptions. They provide a necessary check-and-balance to lower over-prescribing pain killers and antibiotics. Urgent care facilities recognize this and are taking steps to reduce these nationwide healthcare problems.
Urgent Care is About Saving Lives

The gap in health care access in the country is a major issue. It’s an issue that won’t get resolved overnight. Urgent care clinics offer a bridge for those who avoid going to the hospital for fear of the bill.

You’re getting the same standards of care as a hospital, the same types of physicians available, but at a fraction of the cost. If you’ve ever had a bad experience at the emergency room, don’t let it prevent you from seeking help in the future. Chances are, if you’re thinking about it now, you probably should go.

Don’t believe us? Look at these nine signs that you should go visit your local urgent care center. Bookmark it for future reference, because it could save you or somebody’s life.

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