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When Is Urgent Care a Better Choice Than Making a Doctor's Appointment?

When Is Urgent Care a Better Choice Than Making a Doctor's Appointment?

When deciding between urgent care and scheduling a doctor's appointment with your primary care provider, it's important to understand the distinct roles each plays in health care. Urgent care centers and primary care physicians serve different purposes, and choosing appropriately can save time and money, and ensure you receive the right level of care.

Here the experienced medical team at Rapid City Healthcare in Irving, Texas explains when urgent care is a better choice than making a doctor’s appointment.

Urgent care vs. primary care

Urgent care facilities are designed to handle non-life-threatening medical issues that require prompt attention, typically outside regular office hours. They are a convenient option for evenings, weekends, or when you can't wait for a scheduled doctor's appointment.

Primary care involves ongoing health management and preventive care, typically provided by a family doctor or general practitioner. Regular appointments allow for a more comprehensive health history and management of chronic conditions. Rapid City Healthcare offers both an urgent care facility and primary care services at our practice.

When to choose urgent care

Urgent care centers fill the gap between primary care and emergency room visits, offering an efficient solution for specific health issues. Here are situations when choosing urgent care instead of primary care is advisable:

After-hours needs

If you need medical attention outside of normal business hours, urgent care centers can provide immediate assistance.

Non-emergency situations

For minor cuts, burns, sprains, or mild infections, urgent care is well-equipped to handle these conditions without the need for an emergency room visit.

Quick medical advice 

If you're unsure about the severity of your medical issue, urgent care can offer quick advice and treatment.

No available doctor's appointments

When you can't get a timely appointment with your primary care physician, urgent care is a good alternative.


Urgent care centers often have shorter wait times compared to ER visits and are often located in easily accessible areas.

When to make a doctor's appointment

Visiting the doctor is essential for maintaining long-term health and managing ongoing medical issues. Your primary care physician is not only familiar with your health history but also plays a crucial role in preventive care and chronic disease management. 

Here are scenarios where scheduling an appointment with your doctor rather than going to the urgent care is the most appropriate choice:

Chronic condition management

Regular appointments are essential for managing ongoing health issues like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.

Routine checkups and screenings

Regular health screenings, vaccinations, and checkups are best handled by your primary care doctor who knows your health history.

Medical history and medications

For those with a complex medical history or on multiple medications, a primary care physician's comprehensive understanding of your health is crucial.

Long-term health planning

Discussing long-term health goals and preventive measures is more suited to a scheduled doctor's appointment.

Referrals to specialists

If you need to see a specialist, your primary care doctor can provide a referral and coordinate care.

Visit us for both primary and urgent care needs

Choosing between urgent care and scheduling a doctor's appointment depends on the nature and severity of your health issue, the time of day, and your overall health needs. Urgent care is a valuable resource for immediate, non-emergency situations, particularly when you can't see your regular doctor. However, for ongoing health management, preventive care, and chronic condition monitoring, sticking with your primary care physician at Rapid City Healthcare is ideal. 

Our urgent care center is open six days a week, and walk-ins are welcome. For all primary care needs, we invite you to call or schedule an appointment online.

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