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Urgent Care vs. Primary Care: What’s the Difference?

There is a lot of terminology being thrown around these days. At the same time, people are busier than ever with work, family and hobbies. It’s easy to be confused about different kinds of services and products, especially when they sound alike. In some areas of life, this doesn’t have much importance. But in terms of understanding medical care, it can make a big difference.

Urgent care vs. primary care is one good example. Obviously, there are many people out there who know the difference. But there are also many who don’t. Let’s break it down right here, and clear up any doubt about the difference between the two.

Primary care: A long-term, preventative relationship

Primary care is your “home base” for medical care. It’s a medical professional (such as an MD, PA or NP) whom you visit periodically for regular checkups, or medical questions that may have been bothering you or a family member. This is all about a long-term professional relationship between you, your family, and a medical establishment. Primary care providers are familiar with the medical records and overall health of their patients. Visits to medical specialists are often made on the basis of referrals from the primary care provider.

Studies have shown that people who develop an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider are able to lead healthier lives overall. The advantages of preventing illness and injury are well documented.

Urgent care: A convenient option for immediate care

When you have an illness or injury that is not potentially life threatening, yet requires immediate medical treatment, urgent care is an excellent option. It eliminates long wait times and allows you to be seen quickly without an appointment. At the same time, urgent care centers offer a very high level of care. There are strict standards in terms of who can treat patients at an urgent care center, and many centers have MDs on staff. Whether you’re treated by a trained nurse, a Physician’s Assistant, or a Medical Doctor, you’ll receive proper medical care. The absence of long wait times, and the ability to walk in without calling ahead, make urgent care an indispensible option for modern life.

Both types of treatment are valuable

Anyone can find themselves in a situation where confusion between primary care and urgent care results in lost time, inconvenience, and delays in receiving prompt medical care for an illness or injury. Remember: Primary care is about building a long-term relationship and a deeper understanding of a patient’s health. Routine checkups will strengthen that relationship and lead to better health over the long term.

Urgent care is there for you when a non life-threatening medical issue needs to be addressed quickly and conveniently. It’s certainly possible to develop a long-term relationship with your local urgent care center, but it’s important to realize that urgent care is not the same as primary care. When both types of care are used correctly and consistently, staying healthier is relatively easy and convenient.

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