If you have found yourself needing urgent medical care, it makes sense that you would have some questions about how urgent care works. Can I call urgent care? Do you make appointments for urgent care? You might also be wondering how to find urgent care in network, or how to find the closest quick care center or walk in urgent care center.

Of course, the specific answers to all of these questions are going to depend on the specific place that you are looking to go to. Every urgent care center has its own rules. Call or contact them to get all your questions answered.

Needing to know this information should not deter you from going to an urgent care center, however. Urgent care centers can be very important and helpful to people who need them. In some cases, it is a better idea to go to urgent care than it is to go to the emergency room. A lot of the time, you can actually expect to be seen more quickly at an urgent care center than at the ER.

Waiting in the emergency room is never fun. It can like purgatory, only worse. It’s an emergency, after all, and still they’re making you wait. According to a Pulse Report from 2009, the average patient is made to wait for four hours and seven minutes in ERs across America every year.

But that’s not the case with urgent care.

Unlike crowded ER waiting rooms, urgent care centers act as 24 hour walk in clinics where you’re actually seen long before your symptoms get any worse. At least, that’s the plan. The Urgent Care Association of America estimates the average patient waits only 15 minutes before being seen by a doctor. An important distinction between the two, however, is that urgent care facilities can’t treat life-threatening illnesses and injuries. So, what exactly can they treat?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2470_100_4820197_1.jpg

Here are three common reasons a person would opt for an urgent care 24 hour walk in clinic over the ER.

Colds, coughs and flu symptoms.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the most common diagnosis at urgent care centers is for upper respiratory conditions like bronchitis, severe colds and other cough-related symptoms. A large number of facilities now offer point-of-care prescriptions dispensing, too, meaning you’d be able to pick up antibiotics on your way out. Couple this with the availability of flu shots and you have, effectively, a one-stop shop for medical issues.

Broken, sprained and strained bones and tendons.

Got an aching leg pain that just won’t go away? It could be a full-on break, a hairline fracture or maybe just a simple strain. Whatever it is, it could likely be diagnosed with an x-ray, something plenty of urgent care centers now have the capability of performing. That same Becker’s study found that the most common treatment at urgent care facilities nationwide was wound repair, and that’s especially true for situations like these.

UTIs, STDs and other sensitive situations.

Face it, there’s no non-awkward way to deal with illnesses and injuries involving your sensitive bits. Luckily, a 24 hour walk in clinic can offer you a highly discrete and yet incredibly effective STD test without having to pop into your doctor’s office. The same thing goes for treating urinary tract infections and other injuries in that region. Ask any doctor — heading to an ER for those symptoms is not just a waste of time, but a waste of money, too.

Of course, every medical situation is different, just like every patient is different. If you can, always check with your physician before consulting any other health professionals. But if you can’t get an appointment until next month, see what urgent care can do for you. For more information see this.