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What’s the Difference Between Urgent Care & Walk-In Clinics?

Though our name is Fast Track Urgent Care, when describing our services to our community in Maryland, we often refer to our facilities as walk-in clinics. A question we hear a lot from our neighbors throughout Montgomery County is, “What is the difference between urgent care and walk-in clinics?” Today, we’ll talk about the difference between these types of facilities, and which type of facility Fast Track actually is.

What Is a Walk-In Clinic?

A walk-in clinic is a term typically used for a facility that provides a more affordable option for basic medical care than an emergency room. Walk-in clinics, sometimes referred to as a “retail clinic,” are often found near retailers or pharmacies so they’re convenient for patients to find and utilize. These clinics are often staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Originally, walk-in clinics offered a way to serve uninsured or underinsured patients for common, non-threatening conditions.

Typically, walk-in clinics offer care on a first come, first served basis and do not take appointments. The emphasis is on convenience, care, and affordability. Usually they provide service for minor injuries and illnesses like flu or cold treatment, strep throat, cuts, or skin conditions, as well as services like immunizations, physicals, and health screenings.

What Is an Urgent Care Center?

An urgent care center is very similar to a walk-in clinic, but with additional capabilities. Urgent care centers are able to treat more serious (though still non-life threatening) illnesses or injuries. These types of facilities are intended to help patients avoid the need for more expensive medical services, such as at a hospital or emergency room.

As compared to a walk-in clinic, urgent care centers usually staff at least one medical doctor and have a physician available to see patients anytime they are open. However, they still employ nurse practitioners and physician assistants as well. Usually these facilities also have X-ray equipment on site and are able to handle more severe conditions like broken bones or burns, which walk-in clinics typically do not take on.

It’s suggested that any non-life threating medical condition that requires immediate attention be brought to an urgent care center instead of an emergency room to help alleviate the strain on emergency rooms and lower their long wait times. Though it’s not suggested that you use an urgent care clinic as a substitute for a primary care physician, it is recommended to supplement primary care service with visits to an urgent care center given their extended office hours during the week and on weekends, which most primary care physicians do not offer.

Is Fast Track a Walk-In Clinic or an Urgent Care Center?

Fast Track is an urgent care center. As mentioned above, this means that we offer all of the same services as a walk-in clinic, as well as a few enhanced services that walk-in clinics are unable to offer. If you require medical attention, but your condition is not serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, Fast Track Urgent Care is the answer.

As an urgent care center in Montgomery County, Maryland, we provide medical treatment for:

  • Minor fevers, coughs, and sore throats (including strep throat)
  • Ear infections or ear and sinus pain
  • Sprains and strains
  • Broken bones
  • Back pain
  • Bumps, cuts, and bruises
  • Mild asthma
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Stitches
  • X-Rays
  • Checkups and well visits

At our urgent care center, we’re able to administer:

Come to Fast Track Urgent Care for Your Medical Needs in Montgomery County, Maryland

Our friendly, experienced clinicians are board certified and can immediately assess your medical issue and provide the appropriate treatment. That’s what sets us apart from a walk-in clinic—we can address more serious issues and provide convenient, compassionate medical care at the same level you would expect from your doctor’s office.

We’re open seven days a week and welcome all walk-ins. When you need urgent care in the Kensington, Silver Spring, or Chevy Chase areas, come to Fast Track! For more information about Fast Track Urgent Care’s medical services, call us at 800-417-1164 or contact us online.