I confess...this is totally ad-like.
When I was a kid, my ears often hurt. My mom, being in the speech field, always took ear complaints seriously and trotted me off to the pediatrician. I remember quite well sitting there while he looked in my ears, said they were fine, and told me they did not hurt. When I was about 14, I switched (due to a whole other story) to my mom's doc. She was doing a routine checkup, looked in my ears, and said (w/o prompting) that they must hurt quite often. I nearly fell off the table. Something about all my allergies and sneezing and such as a kid throwing the natural tubes off.
So, I don't respond right away to ear pain but after a month of discomfort and a "full" feeling, it was time to just make sure. I am a bad patient and do not have a primary care doc (I do have multiple gyns...) and always find it tough to go in anyway. So we tried the CVS MinuteClinic last Saturday. They only arrived in MA fairly recently but I know other states have them. I had zero wait and saw a very nice nurse practitioner. She said that I had a lot of fluid in my ears, no infection yet but one might be forthcoming so she told me to get Sudafed and gave me a prescription nasal spray to clear things out.
Anyway, I highly recommend the MinuteClinic experience. It obviously only works for pretty discrete issue...nothing requiring long term management...but it was fast and easy. I did NOT need to use CVS for the prescriptions themselves. Co-pay was only the standard $10 office visit (w/o insurance, would have been $62ish). Great alternative for busy folks and I bet great for parents too given the type of ailments kids come down with frequently. As Jason noted, it can hopefully become an alternative for people who use the ER as a primary care. The concept is derided by people pushing the value of a true primary care doctor. I appreciate the sentiment (and know I need one myself) but think they are a great resource used properly.