The waiting room of an urgent care center

Comparing Urgent Care and Primary Care: What Role Does Each Play

Great healthcare begins with using the right facilities at the right times. With so many urgent care centers, primary care physicians, and a variety of other clinics, knowing where to go can be a challenge.

Urgent care clinics and primary care physicians are not at odds with each other. Instead, both services play vital roles in your family’s healthcare. This guide will show the benefits of both primary care and urgent care clinics.

What is a Primary Care Physician

A primary care physician provides a pediatric wellness visit.

A primary care physician is what comes to mind when you think of your family doctor. They are doctors or nurse practitioners who regularly monitor your health over time. These healthcare professionals develop lasting relationships with patients. That long view allows them to monitor long term health concerns.

What are the Benefits of Primary Care

A primary care provider performs takes a patient's blood pressure as part of preventative care.

By seeing you regularly, your primary care physician sees the whole picture of your health. This allows them to learn how you react to certain treatments, and medications. It also allows them to see various areas of your health.

This all makes primary care physicians excellent at providing preventative care. Many primary care providers focus on patient education to prevent illness.

What Makes an Urgent Care Different 

A nurse practitioner provides primary care to a child at an urgent care clinic.

While a primary care physician provides many important health services, urgent care are more accessible. Urgent care clinics keep longer hours, including nights and weekends, and accept walk in visits.

Urgent care centers provide many services a primary care physician offers. Most clinics perform wellness checks, physicals, and preventative treatment.

When Should I Use an Each One

A doctor treats an apparent wrist injury.

Because urgent care clinics offer so many services, they meet many needs. For example, say you need help for a cough or a sore throat. Your primary care physician may not be able to see you that day. That’s when an urgent care center can take you as a walk-in patient. This instant access makes getting care much easier.

There are, however, cases where an urgent care is not the right clinic to visit. This is true with life-threatening conditions like chest pain, head injuries, shortness of breath, and seizures.

Finding The Healthcare Balance

These two healthcare branches have a lot in common. But both are needed parts of your family’s overall health plan. It is not helpful to think of things as urgent care vs. primary care. Instead, these two support and assist one another to provide all the care your family needs.

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