We’ve all been there. You wake up with a sore throat, swollen glands, and a fever – textbook symptoms of strep throat. But, you have a meeting at 9 a.m. that you just can’t miss and so, you have two hours to get ready, get to see a care provider, and get to the office. Where do you go? What do you do?

Many patients, in similar situations, are turning to urgent care centers to get the convenient, quality care they need. And, CareNow, HCA Healthcare’s national chain of urgent care centers, are available to provide our brand of exceptional care in convenient, easy-to-access locations across the nation.

Tim Miller, president of HCA’s Urgent Care Services, tells us more about the biggest misconception – and the benefits – of urgent care centers and what he learned from one of his greatest inspirations and mentor – the founder of CareNow.

Name: Tim Miller

Job Title: President of HCA Healthcare’s Urgent Care Services

Hometown: Lewisville, Texas

Years at HCA: 2.5

Life before HCA: I started my career in urgent care over two decades ago around the time CareNow was founded in 1993. I served in various roles over the years but most recently as president and CEO.

How would you describe your role: I serve our patients our physicians, employees and market leaders and together accomplish our mission to deliver quality, convenient, patient centered urgent care that supports HCA’s mission to care for an improve human life.

When did you get interested in healthcare? I grew up as a missionary kid on an island in the South West Pacific (Papua New Guinea). My mom was a nurse and I had the privilege of often helping her take care of patients who were very sick. The nearest doctor was 500 miles away and she often had to get on the radio and ask for direction on the care of a very sick adult or child with malaria, dysentery or traumatic injury. My first love of healthcare came from her as she dedicated her life to help these people.

Three words to describe urgent care centers: Convenience, Quality and Care

What services are offered across HCA’s urgent care centers? General illness diagnosis and treatment, quick flu tests, EKGs, x-rays, minor emergencies, scrapes/lacerations, sprains/strains, contusions, eye injuries, burns, sports physicals.

What’s the difference between urgent care and ER? Urgent care is great for non-life-threatening problems, such as minor injuries, common illness, rashes, sore throats or sprains and strains. Emergency rooms are for any life-threatening or disabling conditions, sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness, major injuries, chest pain, shortness of breath, high fever with stiff neck, mental confusion or difficulty breathing.  Urgent care centers are typically staffed with family doctors and advanced practice providers (APPs) (i.e. nurse practicioners, physician assistants) while ERs are staffed with ER doctors, APPs and specialists.

Biggest misconception about urgent care centers: I think that there is still a misconception as to quality of care. I still cringe when I hear people refer to urgent care centers as “doc in the box”. While this could be true in some urgent care centers, I believe that CareNow, HCA Healthcare’s urgent care centers, offer the highest quality urgent care available in the country. The first element of quality is our doctors, which is why we have a physician-driven model. We also believe that accreditation is fundamental to quality.

What do you like best about your line of work? I love urgent care because it allows us to take care of patients during their time of need. I remember when the swine flu hit in September 2009 all of the doctors’ offices in the area were completely booked and patients were in a panic thinking they had contracted a life threatening disease. We saw patients in most of our clinics that year until 1:00 a. m. in the morning. It was a crazy time, but so many patients thanked us for being there for them when they could not have otherwise been seen outside of long waits in the ER. The physicians and staff hold all of the credit as they work tirelessly in their care of the patients.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned over the course of your career? To work hard, be accountable, conscientious and humble.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why? The founder of CareNow David Walter was a great mentor for most of my career. He taught me the importance of humility, the pursuit of excellence and generosity. I remember a couple times over the years we outgrew our existing office space. Every time we moved he gave me the larger office, nicer desk/furniture and chose the small office or in one case, when we were out of space, the storage closet for his office. We had a prayer room that we would meet every Tuesday and pray for the needs of the company. If someone was hurting or had a death in the family he was the first to be at the bedside. The other great inspiration to me was my father. He gave his life to help the poor and suffering. He taught me kindness, gentleness and to serve others.

What’s your go-to app on your phone? CareNow’s mobile operating system app that allows me to see the wait times in all of our clinics across the country.

Best way to decompress: Spend time with my wife. I am fortunate that my wife plans great trips for us and we love to travel and experience new places.

What’s the best part of your job? The people I work with and the patients we serve. I love coming to work every day and seeing the smiles and hearing the encouraging words.

What’s an item on your bucket list? Visiting New Zealand.

What advice would you give your younger self? Slow down a little and enjoy life. Invest more time in family and friends. Learn to say “no” more. Work harder.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Many kids growing up in the U.S. want to be police officers or firefighters. For me, the heroes were the pilots who flew in some of the most dangerous conditions on the planet, where people live isolated from the rest of the world, cut off from the most basic necessities. They would deliver medicine and doctors, disaster relief, education, food supplies.  I remember holding my breath and watching pilots navigate a box canyon and land in a clearing on the side of a mountain.

What’s the future of urgent care centers at HCA? We know that across all of the communities we serve, our patients want convenience and to experience healthcare, in non-emergent settings, in ways similar to how they access other services. To meet that need, we will continue to acquire and build new urgent care centers across the nation to provide our patients with a full panel of care options.

Care Now

Visit here for more information on CareNow® Urgent Care, a division of HCA Healthcare.