Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Choosing a Doctor: Tips for Young Adults


As teens age up and move into a world independent from their parents,  one of their new responsibilities is to engage in the process of choosing a doctor. For some teens this process begins early (even by age 10) and for others, not until young adulthood.   In some environments---small towns, colleges, or certain work situations—there may be very little choice about who someone chooses.  In other cases, insurance plans and the inability to access care outside of one’s plan may be limiting.  Some lucky people can affordably have completely free choice about whom they choose to care for them.
 Pediatricians have been heard to say that treating younger kids is sometimes more closely related to veterinary medicine than not. But as teens and young adults can participate much more in their care.

In the next several blog posts, I will lay out some  guidelines for teens and young adults on how to choose a good provider. The relationship with a doctor is important but the doctor also must have the education, training and ongoing commitment necessary to make good decisions when a “disaster” or other scary event takes place.  In the end, if the relationship and chemistry with the provider are not strong and positive, it might not be the right fit no matter how much vetting is done ahead of time.

Why do people need a primary health care provider, sometimes called a PCP?  Checking in on a regular basis is important to catch problems before they arise.   It’s also an opportunity for the PCP to find out  how the patient is doing in a global sense. In medicine for teens and young adults, the idea is to have a “physical” as well as a “mental.” Checking in about sex, alcohol, smoking, relationships, nutrition, and other health habits is just as important (if not more so) than getting a blood pressure taken or lab tests done. A good relationship with a PCP ensures that if a specialist for a particular problem is ever needed,  a  good referral will be made to someone whom the PCP not only trusts but can work with.
Stay tuned for more hints on learning how to take care of yourself after age 18. 

6 comments:

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  3. A lot of kids wanted to be doctors and astronauts when they were young. Most of these dreams change though, as they grow older and realize what's involved. For this reason, I admire the people who actually went to pursue their childhood dreams.

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  6. This is such important info for transitioning teens. I look forward to upcoming posts about healthcare for those moving beyond pediatric care. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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