Will I See a Doctor at an Urgent Care Center?
In many cases, you will have the opportunity to see a doctor at an urgent care clinic. However, this may vary depending on how the particular location staffs, the severity of the condition and the policies of the individual provider.
Seeing a Doctor is Common
At an urgent care facility, it is common to see a doctor. Many people are concerned about heading to an urgent care center because they are worried that they will not see an actual doctor, however, in most cases, you will.
Provider Types Vary by Facility
It is important to note, however, that staffing and policies differ by facility, even within the same urgent care brand or ownership. This means that some facilities may have less severe cases or certain types of conditions see a nurse practitioner. Or, they may only staff nurse practitioners under regionalized physician oversight. Many people do have a preference for being seen by a doctor given their more extensive and comprehensive training, but nurse practitioners are fully capable and licensed to treat nearly any condition that presents at an urgent care. If you are concerned about seeing a doctor, it's a good idea to make this clear when you check in. Perhaps even call in advance to ensure that the location staffs medical doctors. You can ask about the policies at this point as well. The person at the front desk should be able to let you know what type of medical professional you will be seeing.
Who Else You May See
In some cases, you may see more than just the doctor. It is likely that you will interact with a nurse as you get checked in. On top of that, you may also work with a lab technician if you need a blood draw. It's common to work with x-ray technicians if you come in with a broken bone or sprained ankle. In some cases you may work with a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor. Just to be prepared, you may want to better understand the differences between a doctor and a nurse practitioner.
Though most urgent care facilities don't employ specialists in most areas, some may. If you are in need of a specialist, it is a good idea to contact the facility first to ensure they have someone on staff. In general, if you are in need of a specialist, your condition may not be suitable for an urgent care facility. That said, there is a trend in the industry for specialty groups like pediatricians, orthopedists and endocrinologists to open specialty-focused urgent care centers. In fact, there are now several dental urgent care facilities in the country!