What Is a Clinic?

A clinic is a place where people come to be examined and treated for illness or injury. Some clinics are specialized for particular kinds of treatment. Others are large medical facilities that provide a wide range of services, such as ambulatory surgery and monitoring chronic diseases. Many doctors work in clinics that are part of hospitals, but there are also stand-alone facilities that focus on particular health concerns. A clinic can be private or public. The word comes from the Latin “clinica,” meaning a place of healing, and early clinics were places where physicians could give free medicine to the poor. Later, the concept expanded to include other types of treatment and testing.

Some clinics serve as a location where injured or sick people can be seen by a triage nurse and referred to specialists if necessary. They are often equipped with X-ray machines. These are sometimes called emergency or urgent care clinics. They do not usually have the resources to handle more severe emergencies, such as chest pain, major bleeding or broken bones, which are better handled in a hospital emergency room.

Other large clinics are part of hospitals and have a staff that provides ambulatory care and minor surgery. They do not have the resources to provide a full range of hospital treatment, such as intensive care or rehabilitation, which are provided in hospitals. They may also have a specialized unit, such as an oncology clinic or a dialysis clinic, that serves patients with specific conditions.

Smaller outpatient clinics focus on specific concerns or issues, such as respiratory ailments or skin problems. They are generally run by individual doctors. Some are owned by hospitals, while others are independent. There are also specialized clinics, such as ambulatory surgical centers and ultrasound clinics that offer same-day outpatient procedures or tests.

A multi-disciplinary clinic is a place where different medical specialists all work together on a patient-first philosophy. This type of clinic is common in some large hospitals, such as the Mayo Clinic or Boston Pain Care.

Employee clinics are growing in popularity as employers seek to improve the health of their employees and reduce costs related to unscheduled absences or presenteeism (employees showing up to work impaired by sickness) (Sherman & Fabius, 2012).

On-site employee health clinics can help increase the frequency and duration of preventive visits to primary care providers. This helps to prevent serious health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, from developing into more expensive chronic illnesses. They can also reduce the amount of time employees miss from work due to illness and enable them to recover more quickly so they can return to their jobs fully healthy. Employees also benefit from the knowledge and trusting relationships that develop when they see their workplace clinicians on a regular basis. This is an important factor in creating a high-performance workplace that encourages employees to come to work each day and to be productive at their job.

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