For young adults, transitioning from a pediatric healthcare provider to an adult practice is an important step in their independence, but it can be stressful. Transitioning to primary care usually occurs between the ages of 18 to 21, when other big life events like graduating high school and starting college are also happening, which is why it’s important to start transitioning adolescents early, around the age of 16.
When transitioning, the family and care team should encourage the youth to be the leader in this process. The care team and family can help them assume increasing responsibility relating to the adolescent’s health by asking questions such as:
- Do you know your medical needs?
- Do you know your medications?
- Are you able to make your own appointments?
To help create a smooth transition, coordinate responsibilities between the patient, family and provider so that they support and encourage the adolescent to assume adult roles and activities. It’s essential to encourage the youth to take responsibility for their own care and decision making early, so they feel comfortable advocating for themselves once they are on their own.
The most effective transition planning includes the engagement and participation of the patient, family, current provider, receiving provider and anyone else actively involved in the patient’s care. The patient’s current pediatric provider can help by providing education and helping them choose a new provider. Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of pediatricians, family medicine specialists and other related healthcare professionals dedicated to making sure children in the community are healthy and ready to start school.
Christie Leath is a board-certified family nurse practitioner at InstaCare in Greensboro. Christie obtained her diploma of nursing from Watts School of Nursing and Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Winston-Salem State University. She recently completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing with a family practice concentration in 2017 from Catholic University of America.