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.

The right time to shift from pediatric care to adult care varies from child to child. Children should keep seeing their pediatrician as long as they’re comfortable talking to him or her about important physical and mental health issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child continue to see his or her pediatrician until the age of 18. Pediatricians know developmental milestones and may be better equipped to deal with teens and their reproductive, 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 kids to develop a one-to-one rapport and learn how to speak directly to a health practitioner.

Once a child is ready to move on, the decision becomes where to go next for health care. 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. If your child transitions from a Prisma Health pediatrician to a Prisma Health adult primary care physician, your child’s medical record will remain within Prisma Health’s electronic medical record, making all notes and records easily accessible and allowing for a smooth transition.

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.

Mary T. Martin, MD is a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates–Easley & Powdersville. Learn more about Pediatric Associates–Easley & Powdersville or find another Prisma Health pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician.

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