Visiting a Medical Centre, Walk-In Clinic, or Emergency Department in Canada

Medical Centres and Walk-In Clinics

When visiting a medical centre, bring your Alberta Health Care card and photo ID, (e.g., driver's license or passport). If you are visiting a health centre at the University of Alberta (including the UHC and UHC Pharmacy), you will need to bring your OneCard and your personal health care card (e.g., AHCIP and/or UAHIP).

Important note about wait times at medical centres and walk-in clinics: Wait times at medical centres vary. To reduce your wait time, call the centre to book an appointment before seeing a health professional. Drop-in clinics do not require appointments, but you might have to wait anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Many drop-in clinics offer extended hours in the evenings and on weekends.


Emergency Departments

If you are seriously ill or injured (potentially life threatening), phone 9-1-1 immediately. If you are not sure about calling 9-1-1, you can call Health Link at 8-1-1. This line is available 24/7, and allows you to quickly and easily access health advice or health information. A registered nurse will ask your relevant questions, assess your symptoms, and determine the best care for you.

Important note about ambulance services in Alberta: All Albertans, regardless of where they live in the province, will pay the same rate for ambulance service in Alberta. Some insurance plans (including UAHIP) cover some portion of the expenses.

The following outlines new provincial rates/fees:

  • $250 if a patient is treated at the scene, but not transported to a hospital.
  • $385 if a patient is transported to a hospital.

You can also go to the nearest emergency department (e.g., University of Alberta Hospital). Important note about how emergency departments operate: Emergency departments do not operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Instead, you will be triaged based on the severity of your medical condition. In this system, critical patients are attended to first. View emergency department wait times.

Drop-in/walk-in clinic
If you have a medical concern, you can visit medical centres without booking appointments (e.g., University Health Centre in SUB 2-200).
Registered nurse
A nurse who is licensed to practice after receiving 4 years of university-level training.
This terms refers to health professionals who assess patients and determine who should be treated first. The priority in this case is not first-come, first-serve. Instead, priority is based on the severity of the medical situation.
Additional prescribing authority
Alberta pharmacists have a unique ability to obtain this type of authority. This authority allows them to write prescriptions for certain medications (e.g., antibiotics, antidepressants, inhalers, birth control drugs, heart medications, and diabetes medications) as a way to provide ongoing patient care.
Referral health care system
This means there is more than one level of health care service where, upon assessment from a health provider, you may be referred to additional medical services. In Canada, there is primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of health care services.
Ongoing medical care
Receiving ongoing medical care means that you are receiving continuous care, and/or coming back to the same doctor as other medical issues come up. This term can also indicate that you have a designated family doctor.
Private practice
Canada's health care system is publicly funded. However, some health practitioners offer services that are either partially covered or not covered at all (as outlined in your insurance plan) because they are not "medically necessary" services (e.g., cosmetic surgery). These health practitioners have a private practice.