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Young Adults & Their Pediatrician

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I was reading the Wall Street Journal one morning, when I saw an interesting article entitled, “Young Adults Find it Hard to Part from the Pediatrician”.

After being in practice for 25 years, the title of this article definitely caught my eye, and as it happened that it was my day off, I took advantage of reading the article.

The funniest thing is that while drinking my latte and reading the paper I received a handful of emails that sent me the link to this article, and most who had sent it were the mothers of young adults that I still care for!!

It must have also been a coincidence that I received a voice mail from a young adult patient (age 26) who wanted to schedule a check up with me but was concerned that my first available appointment was not until the end of September!!  Her message made me laugh as she said she was busy with “work” when I had an available appointment.  I am flattered that she is comfortable seeing me, but I tease these cute “adult” patients, when I say to them, “you know it is time to move on to an adult doctor when you have your own job and health insurance!”

After reading the article, I have to agree with so many of the doctors quoted. Who better to take your phone call from college or to discuss sensitive issues related to sexuality than the pediatrician who has taken care of you since you were born?

I feel a sense of pride that I know my patients almost as well as my own children as they have grown up under my care.  It is one of the privileges of being a pediatrician, watching that newborn baby grow and mature into a young adult as well as helping with the bumps and bruises (Scooby doo band aids?) along the way.

When a child has seen the same doctor for 20 years, all the while having watched the fish in the office fish tank grow older, or has seen the rocking horse re-upholstered 4 times during their pediatric lifetime, I hope that they are comfortable talking to their pediatrician.

Just like being a parent, there are times that these adolescent patients are more talkative than another, and there are times that you feel like you are not “connecting”, but then there are the moments that they hug you and say you are cool or understand them, and they call on their own to make an appointment, or even leave you a message as to where they have been accepted to college.  Those are the times that are memorable!!

I still believe that your child’s pediatrician is the best doctor to take care of your adolescent son or daughter.  Pediatricians know who your children are by name, feel a connection to your child and are also comfortable (I hope) discussing sex, drugs, drinking, driving, studying, nutrition (no alcohol is not a food group) and the need for sleep whether they are in high school or college.

Pediatricians are typically more available for a visit on short notice while  your adolescent is  home from college, or will return calls to your child’s cell phone.  The pediatrician also stays abreast of vaccinations that teens/young adults may need for school and travel and will remind them that they need to come back! Pediatricians are often available in the evening or on Saturdays for appointments, and keep this age group from using an ER as their primary doctor.

All in all, it really is the perfect job!  The best thing about pediatrics is watching that child mature, getting the privilege of filling out their college health form, and eventually attending their wedding. You know when it gets even better, when they start bringing their babies back to you (I call them all my own grandbabies, as I don’t have “my own” yet).  The circle of life is a wonderful thing, and that is what makes pediatricians keep on practicing.

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow!

Send your comment or question to Dr. Sue!

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