Convenient Care Clinics Trusted as Highly as Primary Care by Majority of Americans

Adam Hanson, RN, BSN | Updated/Verified: May 16, 2024

Convenient care facilities, like walk-in clinics and urgent care centers, are efficient options that provide immediate, non-emergency medical walk-in services with extended hours, often including weekends.

These centers provide essential healthcare services that many Americans need, from annual physical exams to treating minor injuries and illnesses. While walk-in clinics offer these services for non-life-threatening conditions on a first-come, first-served basis, urgent care centers do the same but are equipped to handle more complex situations.

At RegisteredNursing.org, we know that the surge in popularity of these clinics stems from growing frustrations with traditional healthcare settings, where long wait times, rushed visits, and limited availability with primary care doctors have become the norm.

To better understand how convenient care facilities provide solutions to these common frustrations, we surveyed 1,004 Americans who have visited convenient care facilities about their experiences and the reasons behind their visits.

Read on to discover how you, in your nursing career, can play a crucial role in the benefits these clinics offer and help address the challenges patients still face in healthcare. These insights underscore the critical role that nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals play in improving patient care and addressing these ongoing issues.

Key Findings

  • Regarding confidence, 79% trust nurse practitioners or physician assistants as much as primary care doctors.
  • Over half of Americans have gone to a walk-in clinic, and 82% have gone to urgent care.
  • 37% prefer to visit a convenient care facility than their doctor’s office.
  • Regarding the level of care, 73% say they receive the same or better care at convenient care than a doctor’s office.
  • Top U.S. medical frustrations are long wait times, rushed visits, and not being taken seriously.

Reasons Americans Go to a Convenient Care Facility over Their Primary Care Doctor

Bar chart showing the reasons Americans choose convenient care.

Convenient care clinics are often staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants who act as primary providers and work under the supervision of a physician. The good news is that 79% trust nurse practitioners or physician assistants as much as primary care doctors. This finding underscores that convenient care facilities are more than just convenient; they are reliable and trustworthy centers for many medical services.

Although they don't hold the title of physician, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are still highly trained healthcare professionals capable of diagnosing and treating various common illnesses and injuries. 

When comparing visits to a convenient care facility with their primary care physician's office, 73% of respondents describe receiving better or the same quality care at a convenient care facility as they would at a regular doctor’s office.

Although a primary care office can offer familiar staff and long-term health monitoring, convenient care facilities offer many appealing aspects, providing many reasons for patients to opt out of a primary care visit. 

The top three reasons Americans would go to a convenient care facility rather than their primary care doctor are immediate availability, faster service at the clinic, and a convenient location. These are just a few reasons why 37% of our respondents prefer visiting a convenient care facility over their regular doctor’s office, highlighting the growing need for skilled nurses in these settings.

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The Treatment Americans Seek at Convenient Care Facilities

Donut charts with top reasons for convenient care and generations most likely to go.

As convenient care facilities grow, Americans rely on them more and more. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans say they don't have a primary care doctor, and 78% have visited a convenient care facility at least three times in the past year. Over half went to a walk-in clinic, and 82% went to urgent care. This trend underscores the increasing demand for dedicated nurses in walk-in clinics and urgent care centers.

Americans seek the top treatments at these convenient care facilities for illnesses or infections, injuries or pain, and tests, screens, or physicals. 

Urgent care centers are ideal for medical issues requiring immediate attention but not severe enough for a trip to the emergency room. These centers handle a broader range of medical problems, offer extended or 24-hour service, and are equipped with physicians on staff and advanced technology for on-site diagnosis.

When looking at age, we found that millennials are most likely to visit a walk-in clinic, and baby boomers are least likely. However, the story differs regarding those most likely to visit urgent care. Our respondents revealed that the older the generation, the more likely they are to visit urgent care. 

How Insurance Status Impacts Convenient Care Visits

Grouped bar chart comparing reasons why insured and uninsured go to convenient care.

When exploring why insured and uninsured Americans opt to visit a convenient care facility, we found that uninsured people go mainly because of lower costs, and insured people go primarily because of immediate availability.

Many insured Americans feel their health insurance is inadequate due to high deductibles, copays, or lack of coverage. 61% of Americans are unsatisfied or somewhat satisfied with their health insurance coverage. This dissatisfaction emphasizes the need for compassionate nurses who can help patients navigate these challenges. 

Whether insured or not, both types of Americans made similar visits to walk-in clinics and urgent care centers in the past year. 

RELATED: Here's How Much Your Healthcare Costs Will Rise as You Age

Common Frustrations with Medical Care

Bar chart ranking frustrations by the percentage who chose it.

Regardless of insurance status, medical care often brings common frustrations for Americans. Topping the list are long wait times, rushed visits, and concerns not taken seriously. These systemic issues highlight the critical role that attentive and empathetic nurses can play in improving patient experiences.

Patients seeking medical care expect timely treatment, compassionate care, and practical solutions. As a nurse, you can meet these expectations and make a meaningful difference in patient’s lives.

When our respondents were asked about these particular frustrations, some noted that these issues were more common when visiting a primary care physician. The most common frustrations when visiting primary care offices include:

  • Billing and administration issues
  • Concerns not taken seriously
  • Condescending or dismissive treatment
  • Denial of standard tests
  • Poor communication and rushed visits 

While these issues can be present at community care facilities, Americans say they've experienced them more often with their primary doctor.

Making a Difference Through a Career in Healthcare

Convenient care facilities have revolutionized access to quality, affordable healthcare, addressing critical issues like long wait times, rushed visits, and limited availability in traditional settings. As a future nurse, you can be vital in advocating for patients and improving their healthcare experiences.

With the growing need for medical facilities, the demand for skilled healthcare professionals, especially registered nurses, continues to rise. Nurses are essential in shaping patient care, ensuring compassion, and driving positive change in the healthcare system.

If you’re seeking a rewarding career that makes a significant impact, consider becoming a registered nurse. RegisteredNursing.org can guide you to online nursing programs that will equip you with the skills and knowledge to excel in this fulfilling field.

Methodology

In April 2024, we surveyed 1,004 Americans who had visited a CVS Minute Clinic, independent walk-in clinic, or urgent care about their experience. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 and were 49% female, 49% male, and 2% nonbinary.

Fair Use Statement: Please share our content for editorial or discussion purposes. Please link back to this page and give proper credit to RegisteredNursing.org.

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