Five Careers In Urgent Care: A Look At Requirements, Salary And Duties

For those with experience in the medical field, working in urgent care is a rapidly growing opportunity. Sometimes referred to as a walk-in clinic, an urgent care center offers ambulatory treatment of non-life threatening illness or injuries. From physicians to nurse practitioners to office managers, walk-in clinics feature full-staff service. If you are interested in a career in urgent care, here are five top options and what they entail:

1. Urgent Care Physician

To become an urgent care physician in the United States, you must meet certain qualifications and standards. This will typically include obtaining an undergraduate degree from a medical school. Although it is not mandatory in most cases, you may wish to hold a medical specialty and become board certified by passing a special examination. You'll also be required to obtain your license from the state in which you'll practice.

The immediate care physician should have experience working in a walk-in clinic environment. Because urgent care walk-in clinics offer immediate care and are open on weekends and most holidays, the urgent care physician must be willing to have a flexible schedule. Most often the urgent care doctor will work a 12 hour shift and see numerous patients during that period. Urgent care physicians will diagnose and treat illnesses such as respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, sinusitis and other minor ailments. He or she may suture cuts and lacerations, treat minor burns or set broken bones.

The average salary of an urgent care physician is approximately $147,121 to $207,106. Most doctors will work a 40 hour work week and some may receive bonuses. Full benefits are standard. 

2. Urgent Care Registered Nurse

Many walk-in clinics employ registered nurses, so the opportunity is there. To pursue this career, you'll need to complete a post-secondary program in order to receive your bachelor's degree or associate's degree. In some cases, you may find a hospital that offers a special program for receiving a diploma. Additionally, you'll be required to pass an examination set by the state to receive your license. 

While the registered nurse at a walk-in clinic may not work the typical five or six day workweek, the hours will often be as long as the physician's during an average work day. This usually involves working from morning until evening. A registered nurse may examine minor wounds and administer sutures as needed. This job also involves administering medications under the doctor's supervision and assisting the doctor during examinations. He or she will be aware of drug interactions and correct dosing. A registered nurse cannot legally write a prescription for a patient, however.

Salaries of registered nurses working in urgent care average in the $60,000 range yearly. 

3. Walk-In Clinic Nurse Practitioner

In order to succeed in this direction, you'll have to obtain a master's degree. This is the minimum requirement for becoming a nurse practitioner in urgent care or elsewhere. The nurse practitioner in urgent care will have advanced training that exceeds that of a registered nurse.

He or she will examine and diagnose the patients at a walk-in clinic. Although the nurse practitioner will perform duties similar to that of the clinic doctor, he or she may be required to do so under the supervision of a licensed physician. A nurse practitioner working in urgent care is able to write prescriptions for patients. This is a differentiating factor between the nurse practitioner and registered nurse. He or she will also initiate follow-up care or construct a therapeutic plan of action.

Nurse practitioners earn decent pay, although many earn less than physicians. On average, salaries will be under the hundred thousand dollar range.

4. Clinic Medical Assistant

To become a medical assistant, you will need to possess a high school diploma or GED. An accredited school will provide the medical assistant certification you will require. 

Working at a walk-in clinic, the medical assistant will be required to have a flexible schedule. As the name suggests, the medical assistant at a walk-in clinic will assist the physician or nurse practitioner. Often this means administering shots and medicine, taking and recording temperatures and blood pressure readings and documenting the results.

Additionally, the medical assistant in urgent care will perform duties that are necessary before opening office hours. This often includes tasks such as replenishing office supplies. He or she may also be required to turn on equipment and shut off machines at the end of the day.

Medical assistants in urgent care earn around $30,000/year, although this figure was documented from 2014. 

5. Urgent Care X-Ray Technologist

For clinics that employ on-site laboratories, a technician will be needed, so there is ample opportunity in this field. If you obtain a medical radiology license, you might find a position at an urgent care walk-in facility. Your basic duties will typically involve operating digital imaging machines and obtaining X-rays, as well as labeling the specimens. Some of the small clinics will require the technician to clean and maintain the equipment as well.

The average salary of a typical X-ray technician at a walk-in clinic urgent care facility is slightly over $50,000.