Managing Your Medical Care: The High School Years


Probably, for most of your life, you’ve been going to a family doctor or a pediatrician. You’ve gotten a check-up at least once a year, shots if you’re traveling or starting a new school or camp, and, if you’re sick, you’ve told a parent and one of you has called the doctor to make an appointment (probably more often than not, a parent).

As you get older and start to gain some more independence, this process will   change slightly. Whether or not you go to college after high school, you will usually need to switch from seeing a pediatrician, a doctor for children, to seeing an adult healthcare provider.

Before you try to find a new medical provider, practice smaller steps: make an appointment with your current doctor, rather than having a parent or guardian make one for you. Discuss your medical history with your parents: you’ll need to know your own medical history and your family medical history as this will likely come up on medical forms and when you meet a new doctor. It is also important to discuss with your family and learn about what health insurance you currently have and how this will continue or change when you go to college.

Before you can schedule any appointments, you need to find a list of qualified professionals (and whether they work with your insurance plan). If you are going to be living at or near home, your pediatrician will likely be able to recommend a doctor in his or her network. Your parents or siblings could have ideas, too. See where these doctors work: is the location near your house or place of residence? Is the office accessible for whatever limitations you might have?

There are actually quite a few questions to consider when choosing a new doctor for treatment of both physical and mental health issues. Scheduling a meeting with potential doctors before you commit to becoming their patient can help you answer these questions.

Having an adult healthcare provider will support your independence. You will have to be open and honest about your activity, history, and concerns, and you will have to pay attention to how you feel, physically and mentally, and take appropriate action to get yourself care. This may sound challenging, but everyone learns to do it; and it will help you on the road to becoming an independent, self-sufficient adult.

For more information on transitioning care see this excellent and thorough report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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