ODESSA - In a trip to the doctor's office, a primary care physician is often the first one to tell you what you have and where to go from here.
"The central person to direct their care, so the primary care physician's very important," Executive Director of Medical Center Hospital ProCare, Julian Beseril, said.
But Texas reportedly will need to bring in thousands of these physicians to keep up with a fast-growing population.
Some University of Houston health reports even state there are 25 Texas counties without any physicians.
The shortage is also being felt in the Basin with our booming population.
But it's also a matter of where graduating medical students are getting paid more.
"There's a lot of sick people. Payers have favored the specialist over primary care, so most new medical students would go into those fields," Beseril said.
Without enough of these physicians, patients could end up losing medical attention or paying too much in a direct trip to the emergency room.
So to prevent that, starting in 2011, Medical Center Hospital opened two retail clinics in Odessa Walmarts.
The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician's assistants treating sicknesses as soon as possible before they become something serious.
"Colds, coughs, sore throat, some stomach viruses, and we have patients coming in for refill of medications," Retail Clinic Nurse Practitioner, Nancy Bueno, said.
That way, preventable illnesses can be treated early in the game before they send people to the hospital.
"To get into a health system, so it will make it easier to just access the care," Beseril said.
"Most of my patients are telling me that: 'Oh, I'm so glad that you are here.' We have lots of visitors coming from other places. They said: 'Oh, I wish that we should have these clinics in our place. We can shop at the same time while we wait for our turn,'" Bueno said.
Medical Center Hospital has also opened an urgent care clinic in their Health and Wellness Center to combat the shortage and they plan on opening another urgent care clinic near the main hospital in February.
They're trying to combat the lack of physicians with earlier treatment to prevent larger illnesses.
To contact these clinics, here's that information:
Clinic at Walmart East
4210 JBS Parkway
Clinic at Walmart West
2450 West Loop 338
Health and Wellness Center Urgent Care Clinic
8050 East Highway 191, Suite 104