If your teenager is outgrowing the pediatrician, there are some factors to consider before transitioning him to adult care.
June is Men’s Health Awareness month, and perhaps it’s time for your young man to take charge of his health care.
There’s no set time to change and most pediatricians will see their patients until 18, many until age 22. But the transition to an adult provider usually happens around this period of time. Your son may start to feel he’s too old for a doctor’s office with toys in the waiting room. Or, he simply may not care.
A lot of the transition depends on the individual and his (or her, as this all applies to girls, too!) emotional and social development. Your son may want to schedule appointments that work with his school schedule. He may be fine driving himself to the doctor, asking questions, and filling a prescription.
“Ideally, we’d like older teens to start taking more initiative with their appointments, and this usually involves a block of time without the parent present in the exam room,” said Dr. Michael Visker, a pediatrician at Alewife Brook Community Pediatrics. “You want patients to feel comfortable asking the questions they really want to know.”
Often teen taboo topics center on things they’d be uncomfortable asking their parents — think sex, drugs, drinking, and the like.
The process of transitioning from a child to an adult doctor isn’t difficult. It involves sending over the child’s health records to a new practice. But you should take into consideration where your son may live after high school or after college to help streamline the process.
Dr. Visker explained that a teen may need to see a couple of doctors before settling on a provider.
“You’re looking for a doctor who displays the right level of empathy, warmth, and patience that you want in a health care provider,” he said.
If your teen is happy to stay with his pediatrician after high school, he might postpone transitioning until after college. Many university health services will take care of students acute needs and your teen can get routine physicals from his pediatrician when at home on vacation.
If this is your child, know that he should see the doctor before leaving for school. This appointment will allow your child to get up-to-date information from his doctor and get current immunizations.
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