What Is a Clinic?

A clinic is a medical establishment that is used to diagnose and treat patients. There are many different types of medical clinics and they can be run either by private businesses or the government. Some clinics are specialized in certain areas of medicine while others focus on general healthcare. Some of these clinics are associated with a hospital while others are stand-alone practices. In addition, there are many different types of retail-based clinics that are housed within shopping centers and other similar establishments. Finally, there are also mental health clinics that deal with psychiatric disorders.

Originally, the word clinic simply referred to a dispensary. These early clinics were set up to be a central means for physicians to distribute medicines and treatments to the poor people whom they were visiting in their homes to treat. As time went on, however, these dispensaries began to develop into a much larger type of establishment. The modern concept of a clinic was developed during the late 1800s, when hospitals connected to medical schools inaugurated outpatient departments for teaching and charity purposes.

These hospital-connected clinics largely followed the format of their inpatient departments. The physician staffs in these clinics were essentially the same as those of the hospitals. The clinics provided ambulatory care and limited acute service, but they did not have the major surgery and pre- and post-operation facilities that hospitals had.

In the late 1900s, some privately run organizations began to establish medical clinics for their members. These organized group clinics offered the advantages of common administration and facilities that were beyond the scope of individual practitioners. The doctors in these groups often worked on a fee basis, although some of them were employed by hospitals and remained in their regular staffs.

A large number of medical specialists have established private clinics. Some of these are limited to the treatment of a particular medical condition, while others are general clinics with several of the various specialties represented on their personnel rosters. Still other private clinics are very large, providing the range of services that a hospital does, while maintaining an independent status.

Some of the newer, more specialized clinics include a rheumatology center and a cancer clinic. These specialized clinics offer diagnosis and treatment of their specific conditions but are not open to the public at large. Some of these clinics, such as the Mayo Clinic, have achieved a national reputation and serve a broad area.

Clinics are increasingly being used by employers to provide healthcare for their employees. These on-site clinics facilitate communication between human resources and employees regarding their healthcare needs, help to reduce absenteeism due to sickness and injury, and can improve productivity by reducing the amount of time that an employee is out of work due to illness (Sherman & Fabius, 2011). They also provide cost savings for companies by allowing them to avoid the high costs of healthcare benefits. Moreover, they are a way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to the health and safety of their employees.

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