What Are Clinics?

Clinics are medical facilities that treat patients on a walk-in basis and offer healthcare services for a wide range of problems. Some clinics are privately owned by physicians, while others are operated by governmental agencies or nonprofit organizations. Private clinics usually have a small staff that includes nurses and doctors. Some clinics also offer a variety of health-related services, including vaccinations, physicals and help for smoking cessation. Many clinics are located in retail settings, such as drugstores, supermarkets and large “big box” stores.

Hospitals have several advantages over clinics, but are less equipped to handle emergency situations. Pros of hospitals include a team of medical professionals who will take care of you from start to finish and specialized treatment for the most serious conditions. Pros of clinics are that you can receive short-term care for the most common issues and that your doctor will make referrals to specialists if you need them.

Primary health-care clinics focus on a broad range of conditions and are often the first place you’ll go if you have a problem that requires specialized treatment. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a clinic that offers free or low cost care. Many of these clinics are part of larger hospitals or healthcare systems, but they can be stand-alone facilities.

Urgent care clinics are often the best choice if you have a health issue that can’t wait for an appointment at your regular doctor’s office or for a trip to the emergency room. These clinics are typically open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week and are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Some of these clinics are located in malls, grocery stores and big retail chain settings.

Some companies operate on-site medical clinics to cut down on workers’ compensation costs and improve employee morale. These clinics are usually staffed by healthcare professionals who are employed by the company. In some cases, the company will reimburse employees for their visit to the clinic.

Group medical clinics are a type of group practice in which physicians share administration and facilities in an organized arrangement. This practice originated as dispensaries that physicians established in the 17th and 18th centuries to provide medical care for poor patients who couldn’t afford to see them on a private basis.

These groups provided a means for physicians to practice on a group basis, sharing the costs and risks of operating their own practices. Today’s group clinics can be found in almost every community and are a key element of the medical system. They can be found in all sizes and types of setting, from the small private practice to the large hospital group. Most are incorporated and have a legal agreement between the physicians. The terms of the agreement usually specify how the clinic will be run, what facilities it will have and how expenses and profits will be shared. Some clinics are subsidized by government programs like Medicare or Medicaid, but some are not.

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