When will your child graduate from their pediatrician to a primary care provider? It’s important to start this conversation early and have a plan in place well before it is time to make the transition. As your child grows, they should become more involved in their health care and be part of the process and plan.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation for this transition is not age specific. As of 2017, they encourage the provider, parent and child to make the decision together and consider the child’s specific needs. Previously the academy had recommended age 21 (as of 1969) and age 18 (as of 1938).
Pediatricians and clinics can choose their own average age recommendation, which can be based on personal preferences. Also talk to your pediatrician about recommendations they may have for adult providers.
“There are many reasons to stay with a pediatrician past 18 or 21 years of age,” said Shellie Russell-Skerski, MD, a Samaritan pediatrician in Newport. “Chronic health conditions such as asthma, congenital diseases or other problems are best cared for by a pediatrician. If your child has special needs, they could benefit from an ongoing relationship with their pediatrician. Mental, physical and emotional health should also be considered before transitioning to a PCP or other adult care provider.”
Review these tips to help you plan for this transition:
- Start the conversation with your child and their pediatrician by age 15.
- In Oregon starting at age 14, adolescents can seek treatment for mental and reproductive health care independently. This is another way to have your child start taking an active role in their health care.
- Have your child take on more responsibility as they become an adolescent, such as making appointments and talking to the doctor.
- Keep a file with all your child’s important medical information and have your child start managing it. You will not have access to your child’s medical information after they turn 18 years old unless they grant you proxy access. Discuss this with your child and their health care team.
- Start looking for an in-network provider with your child. It can take a while to find someone who fits the needs of your child and who they will be comfortable with.
Prepare and empower your child to take over their health care planning. Work with their pediatrician and together come up with a plan and graduation age that works for everyone. Learn more about proxy MyChart access at samhealth.org/MyChart.