Walk-Ins Welcome: Communities Count on Retail Health Clinics

For Geneva Heath and Tessandra Gulbrandson, students in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program at Chamberlain College of Nursing, the best part of nursing school is firsthand experience with patients. That’s why they were among the first to enroll in Chamberlain’s clinical practicum at select Walgreens Healthcare Clinic locations, launched last spring.

“I knew about retail health clinics long before I enrolled in the practicum,” said Geneva, currently completing her final semester in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialty track. She participated in the program at the Healthcare Clinic in Beech Grove, Indiana. “I chose to participate in the Healthcare Clinic at Walgreens practicum as a way to interact with patients in a family practice setting.”

Over the past five years, retail health clinics have quickly gained popularity as a convenient, cost-effective alternative to visiting primary care doctors. In fact, many patients rely on these clinics as a quick way to manage common healthcare needs like strep throat, ear infections and minor skin abrasions.

Retail health clinic patients view nurses as trusted medical advisors, and today more than 10 million patients visit these care sites each year.[1] Patients can expect this number to continue rising as the healthcare industry evolves to accommodate an aging and increasingly diverse population.[2]

For Chamberlain students, experience in the retail health clinic setting offers exceptional preparation for the expanded role and growing opportunities for nurses, as these facilities give nurses the chance to provide many primary care services that formerly required doctor visits.

“Lots of patients at the Healthcare Clinic told me they love how easy it is to get healthcare right at their neighborhood pharmacy,” said Tessandra, a New Jersey resident who expects to graduate in the FNP specialty track this May. “Community retail health clinics are helping nurses make strides in patient service and alleviate demand for healthcare, since we can quickly handle so many routine ailments without the oversight of a doctor. It really picks up the speed of a typical medical visit, and it gives doctors more time to focus on more severe cases where advanced expertise is necessary.”

Geneva and Tessandra completed the Walgreens practicum last year, where they provided patients with a variety of healthcare services, ranging from immunizations and physicals to treatment of acute conditions such as skin rashes, ear infections and bronchitis. It brought them face-to-face with patients in a community health setting, helping them develop the foundation for a lifetime of providing extraordinary care.

“The variety of care demands and pace of the patient interaction experience in the retail setting is so rich and diverse,” Geneva said. “It definitely helped me feel more prepared and empowered to be a knowledgeable and trustworthy resource for my future patients.”

“I had a wonderful experience in the Walgreens clinic and learned a lot about how this particular retail clinic works,” Tessandra said. “As a nurse, it’s a priority for me to serve as a resource to my patients. Through the practicum, I learned retail health clinics make it easier and more affordable for patients to seek care for routine ailments, and this will impact how I work with patients in my future career.”

[1] http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/more-americans-using-retail-health-clinics-201305106189

[2] http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/blog/morning-edition/2013/06/accenture-report-predicts-retail.html

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