In the midst of our nation's growing primary care provider shortage and subsequent overutilization of the emergency room (ER), urgent care centers represent an accessible, convenient, and affordable alternative for the management of "urgencies" or nonemergent illnesses and injuries. Despite the presence of competent healthcare providers and a wide array of services at urgent care centers, patients continue to pursue care in the ER for urgencies. School nurses may utilize urgent care centers for the evaluation and management of students with nonemergent medical or traumatic chief complaints. This article discusses the field of urgent care medicine, describes the pediatric services provided at urgent care centers, and summarizes the capabilities of centers to deal with potential urgencies versus emergencies in children and adolescents based on their chief complaint.
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