A clinic is a healthcare facility where you receive outpatient care.
There are many types of clinics. Some are stand-alone practices, while others may be associated with a hospital or university. You can even find some health clinics inside a retail store.
The services offered by each type of clinic can vary widely, too. Some types of clinics offer a broad range of healthcare services while others provide specialized care.
Below we’ll explore 10 different types of health clinics, the services they provide, and how to find affordable care.
One of the most popular types of clinics are those that focus on primary care. Primary care clinics cover a wide range of routine and preventive healthcare services, such as:
- annual physicals
- laboratory testing, such as blood tests and urine tests
- screening and treatment for conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes
- care for minor symptoms, such as sore throat, cough, or nasal congestion
- treatment for common illnesses like colds, the flu, or urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- treatment of some injuries, such as minor cuts or burns
The doctors you’ll see at a primary care clinic practice general medicine in their field. This can include family medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics.
However, you may also meet with other types of healthcare professionals, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Additionally, some primary care clinics may offer services at low cost or no cost. These clinics may be referred to as free or charitable clinics.
While a primary care clinic offers a broad range of services, a specialized clinic focuses on a specific area of medicine. The providers in a specialized clinic will have specific training that focuses on medical fields such as:
- ear, nose, and throat (ENT)
- gynecology and obstetrics
- physical therapy
- sports medicine
Specialized clinics are often associated with a healthcare system or hospital group, but they can also be stand-alone practices.
If you need care that only a specialist can provide, your primary care provider can give you a referral.
This type of clinic has a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health for both women and men. You can visit a sexual health clinic for many types of services, such as:
- access to contraceptive methods, such as condoms, oral contraceptives (birth control pills), or intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- pelvic exams
- screening for some types of cancers, such as cervical cancer, breast cancer, and testicular cancer
- pregnancy testing and prenatal exams
- vaccinations for diseases like HPV or hepatitis B
- HIV services, including testing, treatment, and access to preventive medications (PrEP and PEP)
- help with men’s health conditions, like erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation
- infertility counseling or referrals
- abortion services or referrals
- advice regarding adoption
- counseling following sexual assault
It’s important to note that the types of services that are offered can vary by clinic.
If you’re looking for a specific type of service, contact a clinic directly to find out whether they offer the type of care you’re looking for.
If you’re concerned about your mental health, this type of clinic may be able to provide the treatment and services you need.
The healthcare providers who work at a mental health clinic are focused on helping diagnose and treat many types of mental health conditions. Some examples of these conditions include but aren’t limited to:
- anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- bipolar disorder
- substance use disorders
- eating disorders
Some healthcare providers you may come in contact with at a mental health clinic include psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. The services they provide may include:
- diagnosis of mental health conditions
- outpatient counseling, which can take place in an individual, group, or family setting
- prescription medications to help manage mental health conditions
- case management services
- supportive services, such as help with managing medications or developing a support network
These types of clinics provide outpatient services to individuals who are recovering from a substance use disorder.
Generally speaking, outpatient addiction services clinics are best geared toward people who have:
- a stable living environment
- a strong social support network
- reliable transportation
A key focus of an addiction services clinic is group counseling. Counseling sessions are often held multiple times per week. Other services that may be provided include:
- drug and alcohol education
- treatment of other medical or mental health conditions
- help with growing your support network or returning to the workforce
A community health center is a type of clinic that’s community-directed and supported by federal funding. They’re aimed at serving communities that may not have access to affordable healthcare.
To receive federal funding, a community health center must meet the following five criteria:
- offer healthcare services within an area or community that’s classified as medically underserved
- provide comprehensive primary care in conjunction with supportive services like health education and translation
- adjust the costs of services based on an individual’s ability to pay
- be directed by a board that’s predominantly made of community members
- meet additional requirements related to performance, finances, and administration
In addition to primary care, other services can be integrated into a community health center. Some examples include:
- dental care
- mental healthcare
- treatment or counseling for substance use disorders
Retail clinics are located within retail stores. It’s estimated that there are more than 2,800 retail clinics throughout the United States. You may find retail clinics inside:
- drugstores or pharmacies, like Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid
- “big box” retailers, like Walmart or Target
- some supermarket chains, like Kroger, Giant Eagle, or ShopRite
Retail clinics typically accept walk-ins. Their healthcare staff is often made up of physician assistants or nurse practitioners.
Retail clinics offer convenient, same-day care for minor illnesses and healthcare needs for both adults and children. These clinics can be beneficial when you have a minor health issue and don’t want to wait a few days to get an appointment with your primary care provider.
Some of the services offered at a retail clinic may include:
- treatment for minor illnesses, such as:
- ear pain
- bug bites
- minor cuts or wounds
- basic laboratory testing
- routine health screenings
In many cases, pricing at a retail clinic is standardized, so you have a good idea of what to expect as far as cost is concerned.
Some clinics may also take private insurance plans or Medicare.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that there are about 4,500 rural health clinics in the United States.
Rural health clinics provide medically necessary primary or preventive care. A service is considered medically necessary if it’s required to either diagnose or treat an illness or condition.
If the clinic doesn’t offer a specific service, the clinic staff may be able to arrange for you to receive medically necessary care at a hospital or specialized clinic.
These clinics are typically staffed by the following types of healthcare professionals:
- physicians assistants
- nurse practitioners
- certified nurse-midwives
- clinical psychologists
- clinical social workers
A dialysis clinic is a specific type of clinic that provides dialysis to people with kidney failure. Dialysis is a procedure that helps filter waste and other potentially harmful substances from your blood.
While some people may choose to have dialysis at home, there are some advantages of going to a dialysis clinic. For instance, when dialysis is done at a clinic:
- The procedure is supervised by trained medical professionals.
- You don’t need to keep dialysis equipment in your home.
- You get the chance to interact with others who are undergoing the same procedure.
There are also downsides to going to a dialysis clinic. Some of the drawbacks include:
- less flexible scheduling
- having to travel to the clinic
- more time between treatments
If you need dialysis to treat kidney failure, be sure to talk to your doctor about which treatment option may be best suited to you and your needs.
A mobile clinic is a customized vehicle that travels to different areas to provide medical services. It’s estimated that there are currently around 2,000 mobile health clinics in the United States.
Mobile clinics are a valuable tool for providing vital services to communities with barriers to healthcare access, such as:
- lack of reliable transportation
- financial concerns regarding healthcare
- little or no health insurance
- limited healthcare providers in the area
- language or cultural barriers
While mobile clinics typically provide primary or preventive care, they can also provide other services, such as:
- urgent care
- pediatric care
- mental health services
- dental care
- hearing and vision services
- management of chronic health conditions
If you’re concerned about the cost of receiving healthcare services at a clinic, you may want to consider checking out the following resources.
Low- or no-cost clinics
- Community health centers. These clinics scale the cost of care based on your ability to pay. You can find one in your area by using the Health Resources and Services Administration search tool.
- Mobile clinics. Mobile clinics help provide underserved communities with access to affordable healthcare. You can find one near you by using the Mobile Health Map search tool.
- Free and charitable clinics. Some clinics may offer primary care at low cost or no cost. The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics website has a search tool to help you find a free or charitable clinic close to you.
There are many types of health clinics that provide outpatient care. Many clinics provide routine medical and preventive care, while others focus on specific types of care. Some examples include specialized clinics, sexual health clinics, and mental health clinics.
Some types of clinics focus on providing primary and preventive care to underserved communities. Examples of these can include community health centers, rural health clinics, and mobile clinics. You can use online search tools to find one near you.