Your pediatrician knows that one day, your child will outgrow pediatric practice and ‘graduate’ to seeing an adolescent or adult physician. Perhaps your pediatrician already has added credentials in Board Certified Pediatric Adolescent Medicine. He or she may very well have specific recommendations on who the next doctor should be, based on your child’s history and physical location.
Always talk to your doctor about changing to a Specialty doctor, as these things happen and physicians are equipped to facilitate continuity of care and smooth transitions.
In a previous article, we suggested small but significant steps to help your teen become mindful of personal health care.
Let’s add emergency planning to top off this Series.
And by now, your teen may be experimenting with alcohol or drugs so keep reinforcing him to call you if drinking at a party, so he won’t drive the car.
Many male teens crash their first car – that’s why the car insurance rates are so high. So let’s be a little prepared for emergencies, too.
Here are 10 Steps to Teen Medical Independence:
- Keep your teen seeing the pediatrician just like you did for childhood vaccines; this relationship is often missed. School annual physical exams are not the same thing. Talk to the pediatrician and gain transition to adult health care. Allow your teen to start setting appointments, picking up prescriptions and maintaining paperwork.
- Take your pediatrician’s recommendations to heart.
- Consider when your daughter will start to see her own gynecologist.
- Educate yourself and your teen about Board Certification credentials.
- Allow your teen to have a voice in the final selection of the transitional doctor, equipping him or her with skills needed to seek and institute new care.
- Consider the number of Partners of a physician in an office, and who else is On Call for vacations, etc.
- If you child has medical conditions, it may be best for more than one physician in the new office to get to know your child, in case of emergency when the On Call status schedule dictates which doctor responds. This holds true for teens with chronic disease.
- Once a new physician is selected, follow the relationship and medical care with your teen and ensure that the patient:physician relationship is sound; it it may last for years or decades. Continuity of care is paramount.
- Encourage your teen about the importance of having a medical insurance plan, whether or not (s)he is employed. Also increase your teen’s awareness of always having a medical insurance policy that covers medical costs, in case of accident or injury. To this end, have your teen carry medical and car insurances card.
- Emergency Preparedness: encourage your teen not to run out of either medications or gas, in case (s)he needs emergency medical care. Many states have Emergency Preparedness kits for carrying flashlights and a rain jacket in the trunk of the car in case of earthquakes. Other habits to practice include keeping a medication list and preparing for acts of nature. Review fire escapes, earthquake preparedness and evacuation. Have a family password and an out-of-state relative for all family members to call in emergences (i.e., telephone lines call out of state better when local lines are jammed with too many calls).
Your teen is learning and growing through milestones of adolescence and young adulthood. Keep tabs.
As you allow him or her to become independent, you empower our youth to be responsible and self-sufficient. Make sure teens know how to say, “No” to drugs.
We hope you are off to encourage your teen’s independence to be funneled toward positively great health care. Thank you for reviewing this Series with your teen. This is the last article in the series and if you have any questions, please place in Comment below. Dr. Aranda will be available to reply.
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Enjoy the smiles. They’re all around you.