Understanding the Difference: Urgent Care vs Primary Care

Urgent care and primary care are often used interchangeably, but they are two distinct terms. In fact, the difference between the two is one of the most asked questions in the healthcare field. The two are not exactly the same, but they can complement each other when keeping a person’s health well-maintained. 

To further understand the difference between urgent and primary care, let this article discuss each for you.

Urgent Care vs. Primary Care: What’s the Difference?

Urgent care is a clinic for any non-life-threatening medical problem and can be found in the hospital, clinics, or medical office. It is the care of choice for individuals who cannot visit their primary care provider or are experiencing a medical problem that needs urgent attention. Urgent care is an ideal location for individuals who need immediate care but cannot get in to see their primary care provider.

Here are some of the services offered at urgent care centers:

  • Flu shots
  • Immunizations
  • Stomach bug/nausea
  • Sprained ankle
  • Earache
  • Whooping cough
  • Cough/cold with fever
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Rashes/skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cervical cancer screening

Meanwhile, primary care is the first step of health care for individuals. A primary care doctor or PCP has a special role in a person’s healthcare by providing preventive care, treatment for acute illnesses, management of chronic conditions, and coordinating other services for the patient.

Primary care doctors can be found at health centers, clinics, and wellness centers. A person can visit their PCP for the following:

  • Annual physicals
  • Immunizations
  • Preventive care
  • Prevention and treatment of chronic diseases
  • Treatment for acute illnesses
  • Management and coordination of other services such as lab work, radiology, and prescriptions

If primary care is not available, the community health centers or nearby urgent care centers can further assist individuals in getting the medical attention they need.

Why Do You Need Urgent Care?

Urgent care is a good place to go when you feel sick or injured. Here are some of the reasons why urgent care is a good option when you are ill or injured:

  • Urgent care is open on off-hours.
  • If you are not feeling well during off-hours, such as on the weekend or late at night, urgent care is your best option.
  • Urgent care is open when your condition needs immediate attention but does not warrant a trip to the ER.
  • Urgent care is a good place to treat non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
  • If you are suffering from cold, fever, flu, earache, sprained ankle, or other conditions, urgent care is your best option.
  • Urgent care centers do not require an appointment.

Why Do You Need Primary Care?

Primary care is the first step to getting the right wellness and health treatment. Here are some of the reasons why you need primary care:

  • Primary care helps you maintain your health and prevent any health issues.
  • Primary care can provide you with a complete picture of your physical health and how you can prevent illnesses.
  • Primary care can guide you in choosing the right health products for your conditions.
  • Primary care aids you in understanding your lifestyle and how it can affect your overall health.


To sum everything up, urgent care and primary care have the same goal: to help people stay healthy and find solutions to their medical needs and concerns. Urgent care services are often provided in a walk-in setting, with 24/7 access, and are available for non-emergent and non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

While primary care services are mostly provided through health centers and clinics, they are open during regular office hours. They offer routine and vital care to your entire family, and you can also schedule an appointment.

It is vital that you at least have your dedicated primary care doctor who knows your health condition well. If you are from North Bergen and Secaucus, New Jersey, visit us at Garden State Medical Group. Our team offers services from primary care to cardiopulmonary care and onsite radiology services, utilizing the latest advances in tools and techniques. Learn more by contacting us today.

Subscribe to our newsletter

© Garden State Medical Group. All Rights Reserved.