Etymology and Overview of Clinics

  • The word 'clinic' comes from the Ancient Greek word 'klinein' meaning to slope, lean or recline.
  • In Latin, it became 'clīnicus.'
  • The term 'clinic' was originally used to describe a physician who visited patients in their beds.
  • The word was also used to refer to someone receiving baptism on a sick bed.
  • The etymology of the word reflects the historical association of clinics with patient care.
  • Clinics can be privately operated or publicly managed and funded.
  • They primarily focus on the care of outpatients, covering the primary care needs of local communities.
  • Different types of clinics are run by specialists in various health professions, such as physiotherapists and clinical psychologists.
  • Some clinics are operated in-house by employers, government organizations, or hospitals.
  • Traditional medicine is often practiced in clinics in countries like India, China, Russia, and Africa.

Functions of Clinics

  • The function of clinics varies from country to country.
  • Some clinics serve as a place for triage, where people with injuries or illnesses can be assessed by a health worker.
  • Treatment at clinics is generally less expensive than at emergency rooms.
  • Clinics may have access to diagnostic equipment like X-ray machines.
  • Doctors at clinics can refer patients to specialists if needed.

Large Outpatient Clinics

  • Large outpatient clinics can be as large as hospitals.
  • They house general medical practitioners (GPs) who provide ambulatory care and some acute care services.
  • Polyclinics, a type of large outpatient clinic, can have outpatient departments for various medical specialties.
  • In Europe, larger outpatient health centers are commonly called policlinics.
  • Policlinics are also an important part of Cuba's primary care system.

Mobile Clinics

  • Mobile clinics provide accessible healthcare services to remote areas.
  • They have been used in countries like Costa Rica to address new settlement patterns and lack of traditional home healing practices.
  • Mobile clinics have shown positive health outcomes for vulnerable children and non-vulnerable children in rural Namibia.
  • These clinics can improve overall health and help correct health disparities in underserved areas.
  • Mobile clinics play a crucial role in reaching populations that have limited access to healthcare facilities.

Types of Clinics

  • Storefront clinic in Manhattan
  • Public (government-funded) clinics
  • Private medical practices
  • CLSC clinics in Quebec, funded by the provincial government
  • Free clinics in the United States providing free or low-cost healthcare
  • Retail-based clinics in supermarkets and retail outlets
  • General out-patient clinics offering diagnoses and treatments
  • Polyclinics providing a range of healthcare services without overnight stay
  • Specialist clinics offering advanced diagnostic or treatment services
  • Sexual health clinics dealing with prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
  • Gender identity clinics providing transgender healthcare
  • Fertility clinics assisting women and couples to become pregnant
  • Abortion clinics offering abortion services to women
  • Ambulatory surgery clinics for same-day surgical procedures
  • Ultrasound clinics providing medical ultrasound investigations

Related topics:

  • Wikimedia Commons for clinics
  • Healthcare provider
  • Health center
  • Health systems management
  • Nurse-led clinics


  • Greek and Latin origins of the word 'clinic'
  • Statistic on the 2011 National Economic and Social Development in China
  • Clinic search engine tools
  • Policlinics in England
  • Primary health care revolution in Cuba

Clinic Data Sources

Reference URL
Knowledge Graph