Transitioning from pediatric to adult care
As your kids get older, you’ve probably considered whether it’s time to move on from the pediatrician who’s taken care of them all their lives. And teens coping with hormonal changes or in need of counseling about birth control or an eating disorder might feel out of place in a waiting room with babies and toddlers. So, when is the right time to make the transition? Mary T. Martin, MD, said it varies from child to child.
“Children should keep seeing their pediatrician as long as they’re comfortable talking to them about important physical and mental health issues,” said Dr. Martin.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child continue to see a pediatrician until the age of 18. Pediatricians know developmental milestones and may be better equipped to deal with teens and their reproductive health, mental health and sports-related issues than a doctor with an adult-oriented practice.
By age 13, a child does need to see a pediatrician without the parent present for some of the visit. This allows them to develop a one-on-one relationship with their provider and learn how to speak directly to them, while having the freedom to speak freely without their parent present.
Once a child is ready to move on from their pediatrician, the decision becomes where to go next. Your pediatrician can help by giving you a referral to a physician or advanced practice provider who is comfortable seeing adolescents or teens.
Your pediatrician will work with your child’s new doctor to make sure they have all the necessary notes and medical information they need to continue caring for your young adult.
“Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns. They handle transition plans on a daily basis, and as someone who has watched your child grow up, they want the best of health for him or her in the future,” said Dr. Martin.
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