There are over 1,200 retail health clinics operating in 32 states according to the Convenient Care Association. With the large number of such clinics, as a nurse practitioner it is likely you will encounter these employers in your job search. But is retail medicine the right choice for you?
I have worked in two different retail health clinics, one in a grocery store and one in a drug store, in a PRN capacity. This experience has given me insight into the retail health industry as well as the pros and cons of retail health employment.
Benefits of Working as a Nurse Practitioner in Retail Health
Opportunity For Growth in the Company: Do you want to broaden your professional experience beyond just providing patient care? Large retail health companies have business structures that allow nurse practitioners to grow within the company to areas beyond providing direct patient care. These companies like to have nurse practitioners in leadership positions as they are able to relate to those nurse practitioners providing patient care in their clinics.
Easy Work, Decent Pay: Retail health clinics treat only simple acute illnesses and often have protocols outlining the steps for treatment. Some clinics are expanding to offer care to patients with chronic illnesses but these will be straightforward cases. If you are uncomfortable caring for complex patients, retail health could be a good place for you. Many of these clinics are also not busy. As a retail health nurse practitioiner, I recall often seeing only six patients in a twelve hour shift while being paid $50/ hour.
Drawbacks of Working as a Nurse Practitioner in Retail Health
Limitations on Growth in Clinical Skills: If you work in a retail clinic you will not continue to improve your clinical skills. You will not have the opportunity to do procedures and have a very limited opportunity to increase your medical knowledge as these clinics only allow you to treat certain types of patients. This can restrict your future employment opportunities should you ever decide to leave retail health.
You Run the Clinic: As a retail clinic nurse practitioner, you may have a medical assistant, but most likely you will work alone. You take the insurance information, accept credit cards, enter patient information into the computer, mop the floors, wipe the countertops etc. You may or may not enjoy this type of work experience.
Boredom! It can get old treating mainly strep and upper respiratory infections. If you work at a clinic that is slow, you will find that you may eventually tire of spending hours a day on Facebook. It depends on your personality. If you are someone who enjoys a challenge, seeks new learning opportunities and enjoys a more fast-paced work environment, retail medicine is not for you.