Physician's Practice, Doctor's Clinic, Medical Practice: All The Same, Or Different?

When you are searching for a new doctor to see, especially if you have switched medical insurance companies or moved to another city, you might see physician's practice, doctor's clinic, and medical practice, used interchangeably. Are these three things really all the same, or are there marked differences when it comes to searching for a new doctor? Actually, the answer to this question may surprise you. 

A Physician's Practice

A physician practice is any clinical medicine location owned by one or more doctors who have partnered together to create their own clinic. They may all have related specialties or areas of expertise. For example, a physician's practice that addresses everything to do with the brain, neurology, and spinal cord may be owned and operated by a neurologist, migraine specialist, neurosurgeon, and/or spine and spinal cord specialists. The doctor or doctors own the practice, operate separately from other medical care institutions, and have limited numbers of other non-doctor staff working with them. 

A Doctor's Clinic

A doctor's clinic is like the physician's practice, except that the clinic may or may not be owned by a health insurance company or healthcare provider. The clinic operates as an extension of a hospital, performing laboratory tests onsite and completing minor surface-level outpatient procedures, such as addressing wound care, removal of moles and skin tags, and applying casts to broken bones that have been confirmed with x-rays taken in the clinic's radiology department. It may be where you go when you think you have strep throat or to get an annual physical. Any general and intermediate care and tests or x-rays are included, in the services provided by a doctor's clinic. 

A Medical Practice

"Medical practice" is the broadest phrase applied to the medical field. Any practice and any specialty or medicine type may be part of a medical practice. Both of the above medical office types fall under the general umbrella of medical practices, with one exception. This exception includes any clinic location where there are registered nurses, nurses with doctorates, physician's assistants, or nursing physicians practicing medicine in addition to or instead of doctors of any medical discipline.

In other words, "medical practice" is an all-encompassing phrase for any location where people can receive medical attention. It is the one phrase, of the three, that actually can be used interchangeably with the others. If you are looking for something more specific, look for a medical practice with a specialty field, which will probably be a physician's practice or a doctor's clinic.