A Smooth Transition to Adult CarePediatricians in general are trained to care for children ranging in age from birth to their late teens. It is during this time that the pediatrician and child establish a bond and genuine rapport, trust and mutual respect for one another.
The transition from pediatric to adult health care -- usually to a family practitioner or internist -- can be uneasy and intimidating for your
adolescent. With the right guidance, parents can help make the process smoother.
Now that your child is a teenager, you may be fretting over his or her transition from a pediatrician to an adult health care provider.
When should your child change providers? How do you help your child decide which doctor is the right fit, and how involved should you be? The task can be a little less daunting if you plan ahead and make the transition gradually.
Also, be aware that it can be difficult for your child’s pediatrician (who has watched your child blossom into young adulthood) to accept the fact that your adolescent must now move to the next stage of his or her medical care.
Most pediatricians are well trained to care for the medical needs of teenagers, but most teens begin to feel a bit uncomfortable in a pediatric office setting, which is often full of infants and young children. Try to avoid waiting until your child is heading off to college to make the change. Instead, use your child’s high school years as a transition period. Most healthy teenagers should have annual wellness exams. Discussions regarding transition should start at these visits. Teenage children can begin to manage their own medications and schedule their own appointments when they feel comfortable doing so.
“Encourage your teens to speak up during checkups so they feel less of a need for a mediating parent,” says Cheryl Eley, M.D., pediatrician on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen. “As you begin to take a smaller role, your teenager should feel more confident about addressing any health concerns during office visits with his or her new physician.”
Dr. Eley recommends scheduling an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to discuss the best time to begin seeing an adult health care provider. Once you find an adult care provider, schedule a get-to-know-you visit to ensure your child feels comfortable with the prospective physician.
To find a primary care physician at Texas Health Allen, visit TexasHealth.org/FindaPhysician or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).