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If you are a medical student thinking about applying to a residency program, there are a number of considerations you need to keep in your mind to find the perfect residency match. The type of residency program you apply should align with your career goals and personal interests. However, one thing you should also keep in mind while making a final decision is the amount of time you will spend in inpatient and outpatient care settings.

It is advised to decide whether you want to work in inpatient or outpatient care. Depending on your interests and what kind of patients you want to treat will help you make a well-informed decision. Furthermore, choosing inpatient or outpatient care will help you make the most out of your skills.

Inpatient and outpatient care, both types of healthcare systems treat patients, but they differ in where, how, and type of patients to treat. If you are wondering what is the difference between inpatient and outpatient care and how these healthcare systems can have a great impact on your career decision, read this easy guide to understand the difference.

Let’s explore the major differences in both types of patient care – inpatient vs. outpatient.

Inpatient and Outpatient Care – Exploring the Differences

Inpatient Care

One of the major differences between inpatient and outpatient care is the period patients spend in a healthcare facility. As the name suggests, inpatient primarily focuses on providing care to patients admitted for an overnight stay or longer. It includes all medical treatments performed on patients, ranging from standard diagnostic procedures, such as X-ray, CT Scan, MRI, blood tests.

In some cases, the treatment must be severe and require emergency surgical procedures to save the patient’s life. Sometimes inpatient care requires in-depth observation and monitoring depending on the patient’s condition and severity of the disease.

Outpatient Care

In contrast, outpatient care, also called ambulatory care, is the term that is used to define a service or treatment that doesn’t involve hospitalization. A scheduled visit to a clinic for a routine checkup, a specialty service clinic, or an emergency visit to the hospital for urgent care that leaves the patient on the same day they arrive.

In short, any appointment at a clinic or hospital facility is called outpatient care. In outpatient settings, physicians closely monitor the condition of the patient to determine whether he/she needs to be admitted for specialized treatment. The observation period usually lasts for no more than 24 hours.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient – Type of Services

When it comes to providing inpatient and outpatient care, the type of services and treatments differ.

Inpatient care services include:

There are a number of minor surgeries, treatment procedures, medical screenings, and other procedures that don’t require hospitalization.

Outpatient care services include:

Inpatient vs. Outpatient – The Types of Care Providers

Some medical specialties involve outpatient care, while others require both inpatient and outpatient both. Inpatient and outpatient care providers work together to provide excellent care to the patients. For example, obstetrics and gynecologists provide both inpatient and outpatient care services. They provide inpatient care by delivering babies and outpatient care by doing prenatal checkups of pregnant women.

Inpatient care involves a number of care providers that are responsible for diagnosing and treating diseases and providing excellent care to the patients. Physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, lab technicians, and pharmacists are the most common inpatient care providers.

Choosing Between Inpatient and Outpatient Care

As a medical student, choosing a career direction is one of the most important steps to make a well-informed decision. Choosing a career focusing on inpatient and outpatient care can help you make the right career path. During clinical rotations, you will work in a number of clinical settings and medical specialties, including internal medicine, family medicine, endocrinology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and more.

During your clinical years, you will gain the opportunity to work in a hospital and non-hospital settings. You will work under the supervision of the attending physicians in different specialty areas and gain experience in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Performing these clinical rotations will give you a clear idea of which type of patient care you are more interested in while helping you choose the perfect residency program for you.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this easy guide will improve your understanding of these two important types of patient care. Understanding the major differences between inpatient and outpatient care will help you make the right decision about your career.

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