What Is a Clinic?


A clinic is a healthcare facility that offers diagnoses and treatments to patients without an overnight stay in the hospital. It can be private or public, and it may specialize in one aspect of healthcare. Some are affiliated with a university or hospital for added convenience. Others are free or offer a greatly reduced rate for services to those who can’t afford the regular price.

In the US, medical clinics often focus on primary care. These can be either general medicine or specialized clinics such as those that treat women for sexually transmitted diseases. There are also clinics that perform low complexity surgeries. Increasingly, people are opting to have these types of procedures done at medical clinics rather than hospitals, as it is less expensive and they can return to their normal activities the same day.

Many countries have a network of healthcare clinics that are available to those who cannot afford full hospital costs. These are known as free or charitable clinics. Many of these clinics are in conjunction with a university, and students gain valuable experience working in these settings. They are staffed by volunteer physicians and nurses, and they are usually open during off hours to provide care for those who need it.

Some medical professionals, especially those who are specialists, set up clinics to practice their specialty. This is a way to offer their services at lower rates than are offered by larger hospital systems, and it is also a way to keep up their skills. Many of these private clinics are highly regarded and have gained a national reputation, as in the case of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

In addition to the medical specialists, there are other kinds of healthcare providers who work in clinics. Some of these are therapists and other mental health professionals. Others are pharmacists and dentists who can provide services to patients in the clinic setting. There are also urgent care clinics and dental clinics, as well as a variety of other types of clinics that deal with specific conditions or certain parts of the body.

Some large clinics, especially those that are connected with a university, have outpatient departments which are called polyclinics. These are arranged according to the different branches of medicine, with each department consisting of consultation and treatment rooms for the respective specialty. There are also departments for the gynecologist, ear, nose and throat specialist, eye doctor, pulmonologist, etc. The polyclinics in large cities and towns were originally designed to combine the functions of a hospital outpatient department with that of a general practitioner’s clinic. They were built to serve factory workers and their families, and a special children’s polyclinic was also common. These polyclinics often had a library, drugstore, X-ray department, gymnasium and lecture hall. Some were staffed by volunteers, while others charged a nominal registration fee, and in some cases the income from the fees was used to pay physicians. These were the forerunners of modern hospitals.

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