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Transitioning From Pediatric to Adult Care

The transition from pediatric to adult healthcare represents a critical time in an adolescent's life. This transition can be overwhelming and oftentimes take people by surprise. We want to help make this transition as easy as possible! This blog post is geared toward preparing teens to understand why and when is a good time to begin looking into adult care.

Q: I go to a pediatric doctor, why do I have to go to a new doctor?

A: As you get older you will have different medical needs. Your pediatric doctor was an expert in diseases that affect children, but your new doctor will know more about diseases that affect adults. Most pediatric doctors treat patients younger than age 22. This varies, so speak to your pediatrician about the appropriate time to transition care. We recommend having that conversation early, around age 14-18, to ensure you have a transition plan in place.

Q: I see a primary care doctor and a pediatric subspecialist. Do I need to transition both my primary and specialty care? If so, do I need to make the transition to these adult doctors at the same time?

A: You will eventually need to transition both your primary care doctor and pediatric subspecialist. You do not need to make the transition at the same time. Talk to your subspecialty doctor about the timing of transition, this varies depending on the specialty and condition. Your subspecialist may have advice on what doctor you should see in the future. If not, you may be able to find someone locally, adult subspecialists are typically more common than pediatric subspecialists.

Q: My doctor is a family medicine doctor who I plan to stay with as an adult, so why do I have to think about the transition?

A: You are right, if you see a family medicine or internal medicine-pediatrics doctor you will not need to change doctors. However, as you become an adult, your healthcare visits may change. You will probably be going to appointments alone. You may be responsible for making appointments, filling prescriptions, remembering instructions, and following up. Be sure to be open with your doctor if you don’t understand something, you can always ask for information to be repeated, written, and/or printed. Consider if there is a trusted caregiver you would want to be involved in your healthcare.

Q: What about other aspects of transitioning into adulthood?

A: Becoming an adult is hard! You have much more independence, which can be a good or bad thing. Independence will give you an opportunity to figure out your values, interests, and identity. I encourage you to learn more about yourself because you are amazing! Independence also means you are responsible for yourself and your future. You will make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them. You will feel unsure of yourself at times, but you’ll fake it till you make it. You will feel overwhelmed, but you will get through it. Remember that you do not have to go through this transition alone. Talk to someone you trust about any difficulties you are experiencing, this may be a family member, caregiver, friend, or healthcare provider.

Ashley Perry

Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, PGY-3

University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

Ybor Youth Clinic - You can learn more information about making an appointment here!

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