The Benefits of Working in Urgent Care

Posted on: May 04, 2016

If you’re a provider looking into a locum tenens opportunity, consider this: There are significant benefits to working in urgent care.

Similar to retail clinics, working in urgent care doesn’t generally lead to burnout and offers plenty of one-on-one patient opportunities. If that sounds nice, then this practice type could be a great fit for you. Here’s why.

Intense On-the-Job Training and Education

If you work at an urgent care clinic, especially shortly after graduation, you can get an amazing education that prepares you for a wide variety of scenarios down the road.

One physician assistant told us that she worked at an urgent care clinic for six years and was trained by emergency physicians with 20 years of experience. She grew professionally in ways she hadn’t imagined.

Patient-Centered Approach That Improves Lives

Urgent care clinic practitioners can make a significant difference for the patients they see. The PA in the last section explained that having a smile and taking the time to be extra thorough made all the difference in the world. One patient thanked her profusely after her examination led to the discovery of his wife's cancer. 

The urgent care clinic’s patient-centered approach also means that you’ll likely be working with patients on financial decisions. Many patients choose urgent care clinics over emergency rooms because they’re being cost-conscious, as emergency physician Rich Greiner, M.D., wrote on LinkedIn. So they’ll be looking at the necessity of tests and the costs of X-rays, labs, and other options. Helping them find creative solutions can be very rewarding.

Wide Range of Job Opportunities

If you’re looking for a locum tenens role, you’ll find you’re in demand in the urgent clinic field. Urgent care clinics started to grow in 2013, and the trend is still on the upswing.

While primary care physicians’ numbers decrease, as many as 750 new urgent care clinics are opening every year. This means there’s an increased need for locum tenens physicians, PAs, and NPs to staff them. If you focus on this field, you won’t have trouble finding work.

Better, More Predictable Hours

Although emergency rooms are open 24 hours, most urgent care clinics are not. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, many doctors in urgent care work part time so they can have the flexibility to work in a hospital if they want to.

The same is true for NPs. While they might work 12-hour shifts in hospitals, this is less likely to happen in urgent care.

Lower Risk of Burnout

If you’re deciding between working in an emergency room versus in urgent care, factor in the emotional toll. The ER can provide a big adrenaline rush, but such high-stress work can also lead to burnout over time. Urgent care clinics have a slower pace that can be a better match for some personalities.

Health Care Communication interviewed primary care doctors who switched to urgent care and found they were generally happy with their decision. In the standardized urgent care environment, they could delegate paperwork to their staff and not get bogged down as much. They didn’t have to always be on call and they could take more time off. This helped them rediscover why they chose medicine in the first place.

Overall, working in urgent care can be a very rewarding experience for a medical practitioner. You’ll have an opportunity to work on a variety of ailments, but with less stress and fewer hours than your emergency room counterparts. And with the current shortages in primary care, job opportunities in urgent care are growing every day.

If you’re thinking about working in urgent care, talk to your friends and colleagues who have already done so. Also, feel free to check with us to learn about the opportunities available in your region.

If you have further questions about working in urgent care, comment below or tweet us @bartonlocums.

About Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Stephanie Dube Dwilson is a journalist and publicist with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She writes about breaking news, healthcare, tech, law, social marketing, PR, and even cats! You can follow her on Twitter: @stephaniedube.

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