Why should I want to change from pediatric to adult health care and what should I expect?

The transition from pediatric to adult health care can happen when you are too old to see your pediatric doctors (anywhere from 18-21 years old), when you leave home to go to college, or when you and your health care team feel you are ready.

Some possible benefits of moving to adult health care:

  • You are given more independence and treated as an adult
  • Your care includes adult health concerns such as sexuality, fertility, and reproductive health
  • Your doctors will have knowledge of ongoing heath conditions in adults and preventive care such as screening of adult health problems
  • You can decide who will be on your healthcare team (including your parents, if desired)
  • You no longer feel like the oldest person in the waiting room
Hear how other teens found needed support and connection.

Some differences you may encounter when switching from doctors that see children to doctors that see adults:

As you begin thinking about transitioning from a pediatric environment to an environment that sees mainly adults, it will help to prepare by knowing what to expect.  No two experiences will be exactly the same, but these are some of the differences that many teens and young adults have shared.

Pediatric Healthcare Environment Adult Healthcare Environment
Focuses on the family Focuses on the individual
Colorful, warm, and inviting environment Could be lacking color and vibrancy or not feel quite as warm and fuzzy
Rich in resources. May be a one stop shop with hospital, specialty clinics, child life and other resources all in one place. May need to find your own community and specialty resources in other locations
Doctor will talk to your parents and you about your care Doctor talks directly to you and expects you to make decisions about your own care
Doctor may spend more time getting to know you and your family Medical appointments may feel shorter or even rushed
Relationship with doctor may be stronger since they have seen you grow from a child to a young adult Relationships may take awhile to establish
If you are under the age of 18, parent involvement and consent may be needed If you are over the age of 18 years, you must grant permission (if desired) for parents to be in an exam room, see test results, discuss findings with doctors or access medical records
Parents advocate for you You advocate for yourself
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