The Difference Between Walk-In Clinics
and Urgent Care

There was a time people had just two options when seeking medical treatment

The Difference Between Walk-In Clinics and Urgent Care

There was a time people had just two options when seeking medical treatment: make an appointment with their primary doctor or go to the emergency room. But in the past decade alone, consumers have been met with more options in how and where they receive medical treatment.

While this is ultimately good news for consumers, the truth is, many are still confused about these new options. Urgent care, convenient care, walk-in clinics… it can be hard to understand what each offer.

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between urgent care and walk-in clinics, as these are the two primary alternative options for receiving medical treatment, and the two that seem to confuse people the most.

What is a Walk-In Clinic?

You’ve most likely seen a walk-in clinic in one of your neighborhood drug stores like CVS or Walgreens. They offer medical care that is very convenient, and typically very fast and affordable.

These walk-in clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. It’s important to understand what these medical professionals can and cannot do. Let’s start with nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses (RN) with advanced training in diagnosing and treating illness and are able to do the following:

Obtain medical histories and perform physical examinations
Provide immunizations and other preventative child care
Diagnose and treat illnesses
Identify, treat, and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis
Order and interpret diagnostic tests such as x-rays, blood work, and EKG’s
Prescribe medications
Prescribe physical therapy, massage therapy, and other rehabilitation therapy
Provide education to allow patients to make decisions about their own health
Perform procedures such as suturing, casting, cryotherapy, and skin biopsy
Refer to other health care providers


Physician assistants are healthcare professionals who practice medicine with the supervision of licensed physicians.

They can:

Obtain patient histories
Order and interpret lab tests
Perform physical examinations
Counsel patients on preventative health
Diagnose illness and develop treatment strategies
Perform various medical procedures
Assist in surgical operations
Most states, can write prescriptions

When You Should Seek Treatment at a Walk-In Clinic

Walk-in clinics are a great option when you’re looking for treatments to common illnesses such colds and flus, allergies, earaches and strep throat. Some walk-in clinics can even administer vaccinations (like the flu shot) and provide preventative care like health screenings. You will have to check with your local walk-in clinics to see if they offer these services.

There are obvious benefits to being treated at a walk-in clinic, primarily convenience. You can be seen for strep throat while shopping for Kleenex and throat lozenges. Depending on the day and hour, wait times are also generally short, and services can cost as little as the patient’s insurance co-pay.

Having said that, services offered at walk-in clinics are limited, and many people may find they need the services offered at an urgent care center instead.

With locations in Hempstead, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Hicksville, and the Bronx, getting the medical attention you require is more convenient than ever.

How is Urgent Care Different?

First, let’s start with how urgent care centers are similar to walk-in clinics.

Urgent care centers are typically located in commercial settings such as in a strip mall or next to a grocery store, so they are also very convenient for people to access.

Urgent care centers also have short wait times, on average, just 15-20 minutes to be seen. And, like walk-in clinics, no appointment is necessary and costs are generally much lower than you would pay at an ER or even your own PCPs office.

You can also be treated for common illnesses like colds and flus, earaches, allergies and strep throat, receive vaccinations and medical screenings as well.

But there are some major differences.

For starters, while urgent care centers are also staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants, there is usually at least one board-certified physician on call at all times. Also, most urgent care locations have on-site X-ray equipment, CT scans, and lab testing available. This allows them to treat more serious conditions like broken bones and burns.

Urgent care clinics are where you should go when you have an urgent need for treatment, yet your condition is not an emergency. Some examples would be:

  • Accidents and falls
  • Sprains and strains
  • Moderate back problems
  • Breathing difficulties (i.e. mild to moderate asthma)
  • Bleeding/cuts — not bleeding a lot but requiring stitches
  • Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Fever or flu
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
  • Severe sore throat or cough
  • Minor broken bones and fractures (i.e. fingers, toes)
  • Skin rashes and infections
  • Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests
  • Urinary tract infections

On top of these, many urgent care facilities, like UrgentWay, offer physical exams for sports and immigration, gynecological screenings, pediatric care, and drug testing.

Urgent care centers cost far less than a trip to an emergency room for a non-life-threatening condition. Most centers, like UrgentWay, treat patients who do not have insurance. We look for ways to make treatment as affordable as possible for all people.

In conclusion, both walk-in clinics and urgent care centers offer consumers a much-needed alternative to ER services. While walk-in clinics can handle some of the more common illnesses, urgent care centers offer that and more.

UrgentWay is open 365 days of the year and has locations in Hempstead, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Hicksville, and the Bronx. We accept most insurance plans, including worker’s compensation, private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, but also welcome those without insurance. We always do our best to offer the most affordable rates and payment options to our patients.

Feel free to stop into any one of our locations, or call and speak with one of our staff.

urgentway_brooklyn Feel free to stop into any one of our locations

or call and speak with one of our staff.