Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is exciting. However, in health care transition, the process of moving from pediatric to an adult model of care is often the most challenging of all transition topics. The main difference between pediatric and adult health care is that you are the person communicating with the doctor about your health, not your parents. You are also the one making decisions about your health. Of course, you can ask your parents for help in making decisions, but it is you who make the final decisions.
By 16 you should be doing the following:
- Making doctor’s appointments, seeing the doctor alone, asking the doctor any question you have, and refilling medications.
- Asking the doctor to talk with you about your privacy rights when you turn 18.
- Working with your doctor to make a medical summary.
- Figuring out if you need help making health care decisions before you turn 18 and become a legal adult. If you do need help, you’ll need to decide who will support you.
- Talking to your parents/caregiver about the age you want to transfer to a new doctor for adult care. Some adult doctors will see patients at 16.
- Speaking to your pediatrician about recommendations if you can’t find a new adult doctor.
Health care is just one of the many changes that will occur for you as you grow up. Understanding your own health care needs and how to navigate health care will help to set you up for a successful transition into adulthood.