How To Go to a Walk-in Clinic

Posted by: Tara Benwell
You don’t need to make an appointment to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic. Learn a few key expressions and questions before you get sick or injured.

If you have a medical emergency in an English-speaking country, call 112, 999 or 911 (or the emergency number of the country you are in), or go to a hospital emergency room (ER). The ER may have a very long wait. If your medical problem is less serious, go to a walk-in clinic. Look online or in a phonebook for the closest clinic. Use the search “walk-in clinic” plus the name of the city you are in. In a phonebook, look under “doctor” or “medical. Check the clinic hours. You don’t need an appointment at most clinics. You might want to bring a dictionary or a friend who can translate.

Documents to bring
If you are a visitor, you will probably be billed for your visit. Bring your papers with you if you have insurance. If you are a student, bring your permit. Do you need to have your prescription refilled? Bring your prescription form or bottle of medication with you.


Visit the reception desk first. The receptionist will ask you for your name and health card. Tell the receptionist you are an insured visitor or an uninsured visitor. If you are a student, show her your student permit. The receptionist may ask you to fill out a form. She may ask you a few questions:

  • Do you have a family doctor/GP? (You can tell her your doctor’s name in your country.)
  • Why do you need to see a doctor today?
  • What is your medical concern?
  • How long have you had this problem/these symptoms?
  • Are you taking any medication?
  • Do you have any allergies?

Waiting Times
Many walk-in-clinics will not tell you how long you will have to wait. They may estimate the time for you. Usually you wait in a waiting room until your name is called. Listen carefully. Then you go into a doctor’s office and wait again. You can try to ask these questions:

  • How long is the wait?
  • How many doctors are on duty?

Talking to the Doctor

When the doctor comes, he or she will look at the information from the receptionist. The doctor will ask you the reason for your visit:

  • What brought you in today?
  • What’s your medical concern?
  • How can I help you?

Do your best to explain your (or your child’s) symptoms. Use gestures to point at body parts if you can’t explain something. Here are some typical symptoms:

  • I have a sore throat. (She has a sore throat.)
  • I have an earache.
  • I have an infection.
  • I have a bad cough.
  • I have a rash.
  • I feel sick to my stomach. I have a stomach ache.
  • I think I have the stomach flu.
  • I think I have food poisoning.
  • I have been vomiting/throwing up since yesterday.
  • I have a fever. (high temperature)
  • I have chills.
  • I’m experiencing pain in/on my _______________ (body part).
  • I fell and hurt my _________________.
  • I have a bad headache.
  • My _____________ is swollen.
  • I think I am pregnant.

The doctor will ask how long this has been a problem:

  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Have you had this before?
  • Are you in a lot of pain?
  • Are you experiencing a lot of discomfort?

You can answer in two ways:
for + amount of time: for five days; for about a week
since + day or time it started in the past: since last Tuesday; since this morning

The doctor will examine you. The doctor may ask you to remove or loosen your clothing. The doctor will make a suggestion or offer you a prescription. If you don’t understand, ask the doctor to repeat. Ask the doctor if he or she needs to see you again.:

  • I’m sorry, Doctor. I don’t understand what you said.
  • Should I come in again?
  • When should I come back?

If you require medication, the doctor will write you a prescription. You will have to go to a pharmacy to get your prescription filled. Another word for pharmacy is drugstore. Ask the doctor to write down the address of the closest pharmacy. The person at the pharmacy is the pharmacist. Make sure you understand the dosage. If you are unclear about the dosage, ask the pharmacist to repeat the information.

  • Can you explain that to me again?

Repeat the dosage back to the pharmacist to be sure that you understand.

  • So, I need to take 20 millilitres every four hours. Is that correct?

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Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | May 2011
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.