Posted by Gladys Anne Labsan

How long do typical appointments last at an urgent care?


The first thing to understand is whether the facility you’re planning to go to is really an urgent care. Unfortunately, there are medical offices that call themselves urgent care clinics even when they’re not. In reality, some regular medical offices misrepresent themselves as such.

Because of such claims, many patients think that urgent care centers are inefficient. It’s important to visit only those accredited by the Urgent Care Association. A UCA certification is only obtained by mail based on membership and application. On the other hand, a UCA accreditation involves maintaining suitable standards, which are verified through site visits by UCA examiners.

The main complaint of patients is that they spend more time in the waiting room than with a doctor. Studies show that, across the US, most patients meet their doctor for only 17 minutes despite having an hour-long appointment.

Time is precious and the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling sick is to wait around at the doctor’s office. Find out more information about average appointment lengths as well as how to cut down on your wait time.

Average length of an urgent care visit

There are many factors that affect how long you’ll be in an urgent care during a visit.

  • Appointment
    One factor that can affect the length of time you spend in an urgent care is whether you walked in or booked an appointment. Those with appointments are more likely to be prioritized, especially if they booked a specific time for their consultation.
  • Emergencies
    Sometimes, there are patients that require immediate medical attention. In non-life-threatening emergencies, the urgent care staff may prioritize the patient who needs to be seen asap. 

This is the flow in any urgent care. The staff is constantly dealing with the unknown. Therefore, it’s challenging to make a definitive statement on the average appointment length. 

On a good day with a few people in line before you, you could get in and out in well under an hour. When urgent care is full and you have a complicated medical concern, your visit may take longer than expected. 

Tips to prevent long urgent care appointments

Choose a convenient location

Most patients are busy at work during the week and simply can’t waste an entire day sitting in a waiting room. One way to reduce time spent at urgent care centers is by going to one with convenient locations, like one that’s close to public transportation. This way, when you come in, you can get seen or treated quickly.

Just make sure that you don’t rush through your appointment. The doctors should be able to answer all your questions thoroughly and pay attention to the symptoms you describe.

Book an appointment

The first tip is to make an appointment. With a designated appointment, you’re guaranteed to meet with the doctor. You won’t have to worry about sneaking in before the doors close and hoping you’ll be seen by one of the staff members. 

Urgent care appointments are designed so you can walk in right before your appointment and typically head home in well under an hour. You can call the clinic directly or visit their website to book an appointment. Ask your chosen urgent care center if they have an app where you can book an appointment with them.

Virtual doctor services

Another way to make sure that you’re getting the quality care you need is through Telemedicine. Online appointments are like traditional urgent care visits, but more convenient. 

You can schedule an appointment with your online doctor from anywhere as long as you have a reliable connection to wifi. During your virtual appointment, the doctor can diagnose conditions and answer your questions from the comfort of your house.

So far, our online doctor services have been a great success for patients. Customers who use the service love it. A telemedicine provider can order tests, you send out medication refills, and email your sick note for work.

Testing and vaccinations

Some patients only come to urgent care centers when they need a quick test done. Although it may vary by day, these appointments are generally much shorter than other types of urgent care visits.

Be sure to mention this when you’re first greeted by the staff in the reception area. Let them know you’re here just for a flu vaccine, a PPD reading, or a specific blood test. They’ll make sure you get taken care of quickly.

Patient portal

Some urgent care centers make test results available online so patients won’t have to wait or come back another day just to get them. Check the urgent care you plan to visit and ask if they have an online portal where you can access test results.

Complete and ready

If you’re going for a DOT or CDL physical examination, make sure that you come with all the correct information and items required, like prescriptions eyeglasses or hearing aids. You should be able to have a seamless appointment if you also have a complete list of medications you’re taking and questions you may need to ask the doctor.

What if my urgent care appointment isn’t long enough?

Do you frequently leave urgent care visits wanting a little more information? Or maybe you need a little more guidance as you navigate your treatment plan? In these cases, you may want to book a follow-up in-person or online doctor appointment. If your doctor keeps cutting your appointment short without valid reason and you’re left hanging with questions in your head, you may want to find another urgent care center that really values its patients.

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