Over the past few years, urgent care facilities have been popping up across the United States with a twofold aim: to treat as many patients as quickly as possible and reduce the number of patients being admitted to hospitals. According to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine, there are now “approximately 9,300 walk-in, stand-alone urgent care centers in the United States, and 50-100 new clinics open every year.”
This obviously means some big changes for healthcare professionals, especially family medicine and emergency room physicians. With low fees and quick care, many patients with non-life threatening conditions are now opting for urgent care facilities over a lengthier trip to the ER, resulting in a less overwhelming patient load for emergency rooms. The result: while primary care practices and emergency rooms will always have a need for physicians, there is now an incredible demand for physicians in urgent care centers as well.
Because of this, these centers should be an obvious area for physicians to explore when looking for work; however, after decades of viewing the emergency room or a primary care practice as the place for physicians to work, many are hesitant to make the move.
If you’re hesitant to transition to urgent care, consider these benefits of doing so:
- For emergency medicine physicians, we find that urgent care facilities are typically less stressful. Physicians at urgent care facilities don’t usually see patients with life-threatening conditions, so while time is still of the essence, there is generally much less stress at these organizations.
- Work schedules are more flexible. Many urgent care physicians work three 12-hour shifts rather than standard hours 5 days per week. If still being full-time but only working 3 days per week sounds appealing to you, urgent care may be the way to go.
- Family medicine and emergency room practitioners typically enjoy higher pay than they do in a traditional outpatient setting. According to Health Facilities Management, “urgent care has mushroomed into an estimated $14.5 billion business” and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, leaving plenty of opportunity for well-compensated physicians.
- Urgent care physicians have no on-call duties, allowing for better work-life balance when off the clock.
“Because urgent care centers are popping up so quickly, it can be difficult to find qualified physicians and additional staff for these centers,” says Nicole Soler, Senior Director of Physician Recruitment at The Execu|Search Group. “From a recruitment standpoint, we always make sure to let physicians know about the positives of moving into an urgent care setting . We find that improved compensation, flexible scheduling, and work-life balance are often big draws for experienced physicians and when they take the leap, many have very successful and rewarding careers in these facilities.”