The transition from pediatric to adult care

The transition from pediatric to adult medical care can be a daunting time for parents and their children. Although it can be difficult to leave the comfort of your family caregiver, finding the best care for your child is an important part of growing up. Here are some tips to help you make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your child.

Take early action

The Adolescent Medical Clinic at Children’s National Hospital sees patients up to age 22, but depending on your provider, the transition can begin anywhere between 18 and 22. To ensure a safe and healthy transition for your children, you should start conversations as early as 16 or 17 years old. This is especially important for children with complex care needs to ensure there is enough time to transition to new doctors and specialists. Studies have shown that there may be an increase in complications and health issues during the transition period. Early transitions are essential to prevent these complications.

Empower young adults to take charge of their own health

Transitioning your children from pediatric to adult care can be a great way to empower them to take control of their health and healthcare experience independently. During this transition, children are often preparing to go to college or work. Building self-reliance in their health care can help prepare them for this new stage of self-reliance in their lives. This is a great time to teach your children to make their own appointments, know the medications they take, and manage their own health care limitations. Keep in mind that this transition may occur before they leave the nest. Having early conversations about their medical history and conditions will only help your children better understand their long-term care.

5 tips to ease your child’s transition to adult care

  1. Differences in approach: Although pediatric care is very supportive and understanding, it is important to remember that patients are expected to be more independent in adult care. Prepare your children to take responsibility for their care and needs.
  2. Look for a provider who understands your specific needs: For healthy children, it may be helpful to choose a provider that accepts your insurance and has openings in your area. For those who need specialized care, it may be helpful to seek out someone who will understand their conditions in a young adult setting.
  3. Vendor recommendations are extremely helpful: Talk to your specialist to see which is best suited for you and your needs.
  4. Prepare your children: Keep track of medical records and share them with your children, so they are equipped to attend appointments on their own. Photos of their immunization records and medication lists can be stored on their phone for easy access. For more complex health information, creating a medical summary on a USB drive can be helpful.
  5. Make your appointments as soon as possible: To ensure there is no delay in care, start looking for adult providers long before your child intends to transition. Depending on availability, it often takes time to get your foot in the door with a new provider.

It’s never too early to start thinking about transitioning care with your teen, especially when it comes to a chronic health condition. Transitioning your child from pediatric to adult care is an important first step in increasing their independence so they can grow into a happy, healthy adult.