Same-Day Services in Primary Care and Mental Health
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Note: When Veterans request care right away, VA will assess the level of urgency and respond with any of the following steps: providing an in-person visit, providing a telehealth or video care visit, responding and sharing information by secure email, or scheduling a future appointment. In some instances, Veterans can request a referral for health care in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do we calculate wait times if you are new to the VA or new to a particular clinic?
If you are new to the VA, new to a particular clinic, or you are referred back to a particular clinic where you have not been seen in the last two years, then your wait time is equal to the number of days between the day that you request an appointment and the date of your appointment. For example: if you call to schedule an appointment for a new clinic on a Wednesday, and you are scheduled for an appointment on the following Tuesday, then your wait time is equal to 6 days.
How do we calculate wait times if you are not new to VA and need to be seen for a return appointment in a particular clinic?
If you are coming back for a return appointment in a particular clinic, then wait times are calculated differently than if you were a new patient. If we are able to offer you the exact date that you and your provider request for a return appointment (also called Patient-Indicated Date), then the wait time is zero. If we are only able to offer you a date after the date you and your provider request, then the wait time is equal to the number of days between the Patient-Indicated Date and the actual appointment date. For example, if the Patient-Indicated Date is 30 days from now and your appointment is 45 days from now, then the wait time for a return appointment is 15 days (45 minus 30 days)
How often is this wait time data updated?
This wait time data is updated monthly, based on the previous month.
How and when do I receive a return appointment in a particular clinic?
You have the opportunity to discuss a return appointment with your provider prior to the end of your appointment. If a return appointment is indicated, then you and your provider request a date for the return appointment and you can schedule this appointment with the scheduler.
What types of clinics can I call directly to schedule my own appointment?
You may call to schedule your own appointment in primary care, audiology (for ear care), and optometry (for eye care) without a referral. For most other services, you will need a referral from your primary care physician. VA is working to increase the clinics where referral from Primary Care will no longer be needed.
Why is my actual wait time different from what is listed on this website?
Wait times reported on this map represent an average over the total number of appointments for a particular clinic specialty at a facility (either a medical center or a community-based outpatient clinic) experienced by patients last month. Because the number that displays on your map is an average, your personal wait time may be shorter or longer depending on day-to-day variation in availability of appointments.
What types of facilities can I get same-day services for primary care and mental health?
We are proud to offer same-day services in primary care and mental health at every medical center. Medical centers are full hospitals that have either emergency rooms or urgent care, many types of clinics, and allow patients to stay overnight in the facility if they are too sick to go home. Community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) are outpatient clinics that may not have the full set of services that a medical center has. Same-day services are now also available at many CBOCs. Same-day services are not currently guaranteed for other specialties.
What exactly do you mean by “same-day services” for primary care and mental health?
Our same-day services guarantee for (for all medical centers and many CBOCs) says the following: "When you contact us, we will either address your need that day or schedule appropriate follow up care, depending on the urgency. We may address your health care need by providing a face to face visit, returning a phone call, arranging a telehealth or video care visit, responding by secure email, or scheduling a future appointment."
Explore other options
Besides in-person medical appointments, the VA offers other ways of receiving care. Please call your local VA medical center or clinic to see if any of these are offered near your location:
Telehealth (appointments with video conferencing)
Vet Center Program (readjustment counseling, military sexual trauma counseling, and bereavement counseling services