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A general medicine clinic is a medical facility that focuses on primary care. Physicians that provide primary care focus on maintaining and promoting health through regular visits. They also provide care for common acute illnesses and often coordinate specialist services for chronic or complicated conditions based on the needs of their patients. A general medicine clinic often includes care from non-physician providers, such as nurses, phlebotomists, and radiology technicians, as well.
Patients who visit a primary care physician at a general medicine clinic regularly often enjoy better health than those who seek medical care only when they are ill. A general medicine clinic can provide regular diagnostic tests and medical advice to promote health, rather than simply treating acute illnesses. Primary care physicians are trained to handle a wide variety of common medical problems and provide care that focuses on wellness. They often serve as a patient’s initial point of contact with the medical system and can order more advanced tests or provide referrals to specialist physicians for chronic problems that require specialty care, such as heart disease or chronic pain.
General medicine clinics often serve as a one-stop shop for patients’ basic medical needs. While some clinics are very basic and only provide certain types of care for sudden common illnesses, such as colds or bacterial infections, many clinics include facilities for different kinds of diagnostic tests, such as blood tests or X-rays. In some cases, physicians or nurses perform these types of tests, but in most general medicine clinics, people with specialty education or training, such as X-ray technicians or phlebotomists for drawing blood, work side by side with other medical professionals to provide thorough care in one place.
In most cases, a general medicine clinic only provides treatment for the most basic of illnesses. Typically these illnesses occur for a short duration because patients who have ongoing conditions are often better served by a specialist physician. Some primary care physicians do provide ongoing care for simple chronic conditions, however. For example, a patient with high blood pressure that is adequately controlled by a prescription medication might continue to go to a general medicine clinic for check-ups and prescription refills rather than seeing a specialist.
One of the biggest benefits of seeking care through a general medicine clinic is that many of them are open later hours during the week and on weekends, as opposed to specialists or other small physician offices that are only open by appointment for limited working hours, which are often during weekdays only. Hospital emergency room or urgent care clinics can be costly, so general medicine clinics provide an alternative for patients who need care quickly, but are not facing a true medical emergency. Seeing a primary care physician also helps keep a thorough record of a patient’s medical conditions and test results, as these doctors are usually the ones who refer patients to other types of care.