As your child enters the teen years, you may be wondering if it is time to switch from a pediatric doctor to an adult doctor. While every child and every situation is different, there are a number of good reasons to stay with the pediatrician. If there is a problem or concern your child's doctor feels would be better handled by a different type of medical professional, he or she will make a referral for it. Of course, in this case he or she will still remain the primary care physician. Here are just a few things to consider when wondering if it is time to change who has this role.
A pediatric doctor has a better understanding of how a child grows physically and mentally. He or she understands the teen hormonal issues, sports-related injuries and even their mental states. At a time when bodies and minds are changing and growing, it is best to stay with the person who has been there through it all with your child so far. While another doctor can read all the medical information, he or she will not have the same understanding of any small thing that is different or has changed.
Even if your child feels a bit uncomfortable in a waiting room that was designed to keep young children entertained, he or she will still be comfortable with the doctor. At a time when body and mental states are in constant change and growth, having someone familiar can be a big deal. Your child will be more willing to talk with a medical professional that he or she has seen and interacted with numerous times over the years than one who is unknown. The familiar sights, sounds, and even smells of the pediatrician's office can often calm and soothe a nervous teen into expressing concerns. He or she will also be more comfortable asking to see the doctor alone while you wait outside the exam room. Although this may be tough on you, it could be very important if there is something the child is embarrassed to discuss with you.
It all comes down to your child and the doctor. Talk with them both, separately and together, to see how they both feel about making a change. You may suggest trying a family doctor or general practitioner for a visit or two to see how things go. It is even possible to have both professionals caring for the child during a transition from pediatric doctor to adult doctor. However, there is no reason to make a complete change before your child graduates high school or goes off to college.