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Working in a Retail Clinic: What Nurse Practitioners Need to Ask

Authors: Tracy A Klein, RN, MS, WHCNP, FNPFaculty and Disclosures

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A New Model for Healthcare Delivery

Retail health clinics staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs) experienced tremendous growth in the past 2 years. Beginning with MinuteClinic in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2000 (then called QuickMedx), such clinics have spread primarily across urban areas in the United States. As of May 2006, there were at least 12 corporations competing in the retail health clinic market,[1] one promising to open 1400 clinics by the end of 2008. Such clinics will be an employment niche for NPs in years to come.

NPs pioneering their employment in this model must navigate and negotiate their position from within a rapidly changing occupational environment. It is likely that some of the clinics will not succeed, or will succeed but be sold to other corporations. Corporations managing retail clinics may have little to no experience with the NP role or with practice issues such as billing and credentialing for services.

NPs working in retail health clinics should embrace the opportunity to ask reflective questions which can be used to help define their work environment, support the NP role, and ensure satisfaction with patient practice. It is crucial that the NP considering employment in any new and rapidly expanding niche be well versed in domains that influence safe practice while protecting professional practice. The following article presents several questions that will assist the NP who is considering employment in a retail health clinic.