What can be done to shorten wait times in the emergency department? It’s an often-discussed subject within the healthcare industry. Hospitals across the country are using many different strategies to help the flow of patients in the ER, and a growing trend is to open an urgent care center at a separate location. Basically, instead of patients going to the ER for everything from a toothache or a cold to broken bones and gunshot wounds, those with less severe ailments can get treated at urgent care. Urgent care physicians essentially free ER doctors so that they can focus on more serious or life-threatening injuries – emergencies – as is the intention. As more urgent care centers are popping up across the United States, there is a growing need for people to work in them. This, in turn, means that the future of urgent care physician jobs is bright.
Three Things to Know About the Future of Urgent Care
Here are three things to know about the future of urgent care, and why pursuing a career as an urgent care physician could benefit you for years to come.
Experts predict that by 2025 the U.S. will need about 52,000 additional primary care physicians to meet the country’s needs, and many of those jobs will be in urgent care centers. Physicians who are training in primary care specialties, like family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics, are best suited to become urgent care physicians. In addition to the education required to work in primary care, urgent care physicians should also become Board Certified in Urgent Care Medicine. The future of urgent care could also mean more training programs that are specifically designed for physicians who want to work in urgent care medicine.
Urgent care centers saw 20 percent growth from 2010 to 2014, reaching more than 9,000 total across the country by 2014. Urgent care centers are continuing to open across the country today, and they could become a $30.5 billion share of the healthcare market by 2020.
So, why are urgent care centers so successful? They’re efficient! First of all, urgent care centers tend to have more flexible hours than a traditional doctor’s office, which is a draw for patients. A 2014 study found that almost all urgent care centers operating at the time were open seven days a week for at least four hours a day. The same study found that about 90 percent of urgent care centers were maintaining a wait time for patients of 30 minutes or less, and in 84 percent of urgent care centers patients were seen by a physician and heading out the door in an hour or less. Anyone who has worked in or simply waited in the emergency department as a patient can see why urgent care centers are becoming a more popular option for patients who don’t have things that necessarily qualify as medical emergencies.
Pros and Cons of Working in Urgent Care
As it is with any job, there are pros and cons to working as a physician in urgent care. For example, a positive to working in urgent care is that you will have mostly routine work. You’ll probably see patients with many similar ailments each day, instead of the random surprises that arrive in the emergency department. A negative, however, might be that you will have long hours. Unlike working in primary care, many urgent care centers are open longer hours in the evening. Some are even open 24 hours. In the end, it’s important to consider what is best for you, and where you will be most comfortable working.
If you are open to accepting a job working in urgent care, check out All Physician Job’s listing of available urgent care physician jobs in the U.S.