A career in nursing provides opportunities to work in many different roles and healthcare settings. Hospitals are the largest employers of nurses. However, if you are interested in pursuing an alternative to bedside care, a career in urgent care may be ideal.
Patient demand is driving rapid growth of urgent care centers, creating rewarding job options for graduates of a Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. For example, Youngstown State University’s online RN to BSN program prepares graduates with the advanced knowledge and skills to take on higher-level responsibilities in settings such as urgent care centers.
Why Choose a Career in Urgent Care?
Urgent care centers offer walk-in care for wide-ranging medical issues requiring immediate care, not emergency care. As an urgent care nurse, your patients may have medical needs such as:
- Flu symptoms
- Upper respiratory infections
- Sore throat
- Digestive issues
- Sinus, ear and eye infections
- Non-life-threatening allergic reactions
- Skin rashes or irritations
- Sprains and fractures
- Cuts that may require stitches
- Mild burns
Urgent care clinics offer benefits that RNs may not find in other healthcare settings. As Nurse Advisor points out, urgent care centers can be a great way to get on-the-job training and development to meet the diverse medical needs of patients across the lifespan.
Urgent care centers also offer the opportunity to work closely with patients to assess their needs and make treatment decisions. In addition, because many patients choose urgent care centers over emergency departments (EDs) to save money, a patient-centered approach may include addressing financial decisions related to care. Additional benefits a career in urgent care, according to Minority Nurse, include more predictable hours (which often improves work-life balance) and a lower risk of burnout compared with nursing units and EDs.
Plus, no two days at an urgent care center are the same. Nurses never know who will come through the doors or what illness or injury they will see. Meeting the changing needs of urgent care patients on a day-to-day basis strengthens wide-ranging clinical competencies and leadership skills, such as communication, collaboration and continuous improvement.
What Is the Career Outlook for Urgent Care Nurses?
Urgent care centers make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the healthcare industry. According to Statista, the number of urgent care centers in the United States increased from about 6,100 centers in 2013 to 9,616 in 2019.
As demand for urgent care clinics continues to grow, nurses can also expect employment opportunities to increase. IBISWorld reports average employment growth of 6.9% for urgent care centers in the U.S. between 2017 and 2022. Over the same period, the hospitals industry saw an average employment growth of 1.3%.
In addition to a strong job outlook, nurses in the urgent care space may see a salary boost. According to Glassdoor, the median annual salary for urgent care nurses with a BSN is $128,672 (as of September 2022).
Accessibility is one reason for the growth of urgent care centers. The primary care provider (PCP) shortage is well documented, with a projected shortage of 35,260 PCPs in 2035. Lack of access to PCPs is a problem for many people, making it difficult to get prompt appointments for illnesses or injuries. In addition, PCPs may not be readily available after-hours or on weekends.
Urgent care centers are typically open evenings, weekends and holidays. No appointments are necessary, making a community’s urgent care centers a convenient, cost-effective alternative for medical issues that need immediate attention but do not warrant a visit to the ED.
If you are ready to take advantage of the growing urgent care center market, enrolling in an RN to BSN program can provide a competitive edge by demonstrating your commitment to professional nursing and improved patient outcomes. Core coursework in the online RN to BSN program at Youngstown State University prepares graduates with the clinical expertise to deliver quality care in a fast-paced urgent care environment.
Learn more about Youngstown State University’s online RN to BSN program.