Our Adoloescent Medical Services
What is Adolescent Medicine?
Adolescent Medicine was established as a specialty about fifty years ago. Doctors noticed that what made teens unhealthy was not the strep throats or the chicken pox, as much as it was the decisions teens and young adults were making. As kids get older they are generally pretty healthy in a medical sense, with the exception of an occasional case of mono or the flu. But what makes teens unhealthy most often is related to sexuality, friends and family issues, alcohol and other substance abuse, eating disorders (too much or too little or the wrong choices), driving and sports related injuries, and stress. So what we do differently in adolescent medicine is to think about the person as a whole, not as a medical problem, but as a human being navigating all of this new territory. Sometimes kids and young adults are navigating with an outdated map or without one at all. Our goal is to help them traverse the challenging zones and thrive into adulthood.
In addition to all of the ways that adolescent medicine takes special care of teens and young adults, it also provides routine care for camp, school and college checkups, immunizations, and acute illness diagnosis, and management.
As parents, we all know we are not always the best at getting our own kids to talk about what concerns them. Some of us have very complex kids who require “professional parenting skills.” Adolescent medicine helps to bridge gaps and helps parents to be proactive since we have our finger on the community and the cultural pulse.
Teens and young adults who have had a chronic disease or a condition that has required medical or psychiatric attention often need an advocate who can keep the whole person and their comprehensive care coordinated. Adolescent medicine understands the psychological, developmental, sexual, and physical needs of everyone. A medical home is a place that keeps track of it all with the patient.
Unless they have a sports injury, boys are often left out of comprehensive health care after they reach high school age. Yet, boys have concerns about friends, family, alcohol, sports injuries, head injuries, sexuality, and nutrition. All of these issues can be addressed by our adolescent specialists.
We care for all outpatient teen and young adult gynecology concerns, including cramps, irregular bleeding, STIs/HIV, birth control, and sexuality counseling. We specialize in first-time pelvic exams when medically warranted, taking the time to teach, answer any questions, and make the patient completely comfortable.
Sexuality has to do with one’s view of oneself as a sexual person, something that even toddlers are aware of. As we mature, the questions about sexuality and one’s place in one’s family and in the greater culture become more complex. Whether a patient is gay, straight, transgender or uncertain, the adolescent medicine practitioner knows how to talk to the patient, how to listen, and how to guide.
Some of us are picky. Some of us overeat. Some of us diet too much. And some of us over-exercise or hate out bodies. All of us need guidance about nutrition and healthy eating habits. We help to assess the severity of an unusual eater and provide the support services needed to restore health.
Many health issues are a surface projection of a person’s life stresses. Helping adolescents manage academic, social, or family stress is a part of every interview with a teen or young adult. The adolescent and young adult years are highly transitional and can sometimes lead to stress and mental health concerns. Our doctors are highly sensitive to these issues and can make proper referrals to mental health providers if necessary.