For those in the medical field, specialty is everything: it determines your residency and potential fellowship options, as well as your earning potential and career trajectory. However, there are some roles that can be filled by those in several fields of practice, including the urgent care physician.
Urgent care physicians occupy a space between the primary care physician, who provides preventative health plans and referrals, and emergency physicians, who handle extreme cases of trauma or disease.
At an urgent care clinic, a physician may diagnose and treat minor infections and injuries, such as sprains, low fevers, diarrhea, ear infections, and colds; they can also recommend treatment at an emergency room or provide referrals to specialists, depending on the needs of the patient.
There are numerous advantages to choosing an urgent care position, including flexibility, good pay, a positive occupational outlook, and a huge variety of jobs available all across the United States.
Because urgent care centers have regular hours, there’s no need for physicians to stay on call, which means you’ll never have to worry about the dreaded 24 or 48-hour shift where you might be jolted awake from a catnap at any time.
Instead, you’ll enjoy consistent and reasonable working hours: most urgent care clinics are only open between 8am and 8pm, so you’ll certainly never be called up in the middle of the night to attend to a patient.
This is particularly important for those with young children or caretaking duties outside of their professional role, as work-life balance is notoriously difficult to achieve in the healthcare field.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for physicians and surgeons is only expected to grow 3% through to 2031, this is a generalized statistic that looks at growth for doctors overall; it doesn’t consider the need for particular specialties, especially urgent care.
Urgent care clinics have become a highly popular way to receive healthcare because they are convenient compared to scheduling a visit with a primary care physician: wait times for a primary care appointment can span months, which makes it impossible for those with uncomfortable but non-life-threatening conditions to receive prompt treatment.
They are also much cheaper than visiting an emergency room, which is a serious consideration for US consumers, even those with good insurance. As such, there are a plethora of urgent care facilities opening across the United States, and existent clinics are expanding to provide more access.
This is compounded by the fact that many healthcare professionals have left the field after the Covid-19 pandemic, which means that hospital systems are desperate to attract good talent with generous compensation packages and excellent benefits. With healthy growth in the field and numerous opportunities, urgent care is a highly attractive area to consider for your next career move.
In previous decades, it could be quite difficult to find quality positions for an urgent care physician: you would have to visit specialized healthcare job fairs, build your professional network, or contact urgent care clinics one by one in order to inquire if they were hiring. However, this is no longer a concern, as specialty healthcare job boards have made it a breeze to find great job openings all across the country.
Many hospital systems will only use healthcare-specific job sites to list those roles which require licensing or certification, because they will otherwise receive numerous irrelevant applications.
This may make it seem as if jobs are sparse in your area if you’re only looking at general boards like LinkedIn or Indeed, but in reality, there are a variety of clinics and hospital systems posting their opportunities on more specific job boards.
When searching for urgent care physician openings on a medical job board like PracticeMatch, you can control for a variety of parameters, including accepted visa statuses, relocation bonuses, loan repayments, and job type, which ensures that you’re only applying for jobs that exactly meet your needs.
You can also set alerts to let you know when a role meeting your needs pops up, which is perfect for those who are only casually hunting for a position while they continue to work at their current job.
While all medicine can be very gratifying for the right personality, urgent care is perfect for those who want to see immediate results of their work, as well as individuals who crave both variety and routine.
With no need to be on call, urgent care physicians can keep a healthy work-life balance, but they’ll also enjoy providing great relief to a diverse array of people. The outlook for this particular specialty is incredibly optimistic, and there are a wealth of positions all across the country.
If you’re already a physician and are considering how to best utilize your skills, explore the many urgent care opportunities to determine if this role is right for you.