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Clinic facts for kids

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A medpunkt (health care access point) delivers primary health care to the residents of the village of Veliki Vrag in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia.
GreenwichSurgeryClinic bordercropped
The entrance to a surgery clinic in Greenwich, London.
Písek, Alšovo náměstí, poliklinika
Polyclinic in Písek, Czech Republic.
Poliklinik Viršuliškės
Polyclinic in Vilnius-Karoliniškės, Lithuania.
Detskaya poliklinika 137 v Novokosino
Children Polyclinic in Moscow-Novokosino.
Legionowo, Poliklinika Wojskowa - (343207)
Military Polyclinic in Legionowo, Poland.

A clinic (or outpatient clinic or ambulatory care clinic) is a healthcare facility that is primarily focused on the care of outpatients. Clinics can be privately operated or publicly managed and funded. They typically cover the primary healthcare needs of populations in local communities, in contrast to larger hospitals which offer specialized treatments and admit inpatients for overnight.

Clinics are often associated with a general medical practice run by one or several general practitioners. Other types of clinics are run by the type of specialist associated with that type: physical therapy clinics by physiotherapists and psychology clinics by clinical psychologists, and so on for each health profession.

Some clinics are operated in-house by employers, government organizations, or hospitals, and some clinical services are outsourced to private corporations which specialize in providing health services. In China, for example, owners of such clinics do not have formal medical education. There were 659,596 village clinics in China in 2011.

Health care in India, China, Russia and Africa is provided to those countries' vast rural areas by mobile health clinics or roadside dispensaries, some of which integrate traditional medicine. In India these traditional clinics provide ayurvedic medicine and unani herbal medical practice. In each of these countries, traditional medicine tends to be a hereditary practice.

Some clinics are a place for people with injuries or illness to come and be seen by triage nurse or other health worker. In these clinics, the injury or illness may not be large or dangerous enough to warrant a visit to an emergency room, but the person can be moved to one if they need to be. These clinics sometimes can use equipment such as X-ray machines. Doctors at these clinics can send patients to specialists, which is a doctor who is very good at one kind of medicine.

Where the word came from

The word clinic comes from the Greek word klinein, which means to put something at an angle, or to lie down. Latin has the word clinicus, which is a lot like the word we use today. An early meaning of the word clinic was, 'one who gets baptism on a sick bed'.


There are many different types of clinics providing outpatient services. Such clinics may be public (government-funded) or private medical practices.

  • A CLSC are in Quebec; they are a type of free clinic funded by the provincial government; they provide service not covered by Canada's healthcare plan including social workers
  • In the United States, a free clinic provides free or low-cost healthcare for those without insurance.
  • A retail-based clinic is housed in supermarkets and similar retail outlets providing walk-in health care, which may be staffed by nurse practitioners.
  • A general out-patient clinic offers general diagnoses or treatments without an overnight stay.
  • A polyclinic provides a range of healthcare services (including diagnostics) without need of an overnight stay
  • A specialist clinic provides advanced diagnostic or treatment services for specific diseases or parts of the body. This type contrasts with general out-patient clinics.
  • A fertility clinic aims to help women and couples to become pregnant.
  • An ambulatory surgery clinic offers outpatient or same day surgery services, usually for surgical procedures less complicated than those requiring hospitalization.

Large outpatient clinics

Large outpatient clinics vary in size, but can be as large as hospitals.


Typical large outpatient clinics house general medical practitioners (GPs) such as doctors and nurses to provide ambulatory care and some acute care services but lack the major surgical and pre- and post-operative care facilities commonly associated with hospitals.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Clínica para niños

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