Should I Be a Doc in a Box?

In today's busy world, 'doc in a box' healthcare centers are the new wave of medical care. These small clinics, found in supermarkets, drug stores and malls, and in the form of freestanding facilities, provide quick fixes for people suffering minor complaints.

Also known as urgent care facilities, these clinics provide basic medical services like cold and flu treatment, physical exams for sports and school, as well as the treatment of minor cuts, burns and injuries.

The opening of these healthcare centers has lead to a new avenue of employment opportunity for doctors and nurses. Yet does it really pay to be a doc in a box?

A medical professional who works in an urgent care facility will, in all likelihood, not face the same challenges as an emergency room or hospital physician. Typically these doctors work set hours (many clinics are open from 8-9 a.m. to 5-6 p.m., with an hour allowed during the day for lunch), and don't have to spend for long periods of time on their feet; in addition, they don't have to wear beepers or be on call away from the clinic.

In addition, urgent care doctors typically don't face the pressure of dealing with life-threatening situations and conditions. They don't have the stress of treating seriously injured car accident victims or critical cancer patients. They don't bear the burden of delivering bad news or coping with grieving families. They don't have to perform major operations or make split second, life-changing decisions. If a patient does face a serious or potentially life-threatening condition, a clinic doctor may refer him/her to an emergency room for further assistance.

Docs in a box typically deal with the same conditions and situations—and, frequently, the same patients—on a daily basis. And they often work in a pleasant atmosphere, one in which food, conversation and friendly people are never far away. The fact remains, though, that some physicians actually prefer to work in hospitals and emergency rooms, and for a number of reasons. Seasoned doctors and nurses in particular actually enjoy the fast pace and intense situations presented in an e.r.; instead of administering standard procedures and checkups, they'd prefer to work in a more active environment, in which lives may be changed and saved every second. These medical professionals want the continuing challenge presented by critical care; they want to hone and sharpen their skills, to further develop their approaches and techniques.

And obviously, doctors and nurses who work long hours in hospitals and emergency rooms, dealing with patients facing serious and even critical conditions, make substantially more than those who work at urgent care facilities. This is due both to the typical experience level of the urgent care physician (who tend to be nurses or general family practice physicians) and the fewer hours worked in a 'doc in a box' environment.

Even so, medical professionals who want to work manageable schedules in a pleasant atmosphere should find a 'box' in which to 'doc'; check out careers in urgent care medicine today!

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