February 29, 2024

The Big Switch from Pediatrics to Adult Care

By: Mark Myers, MD, FAAP

In every young adult’s life, there comes the transition from pediatrics to adult care. Currently, the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is to begin discussing the transition process when patients are between 12 and 14 years of age, even though most pediatricians see patients until they are around 22 years of age.   

The transition from pediatrics to adult care can vary from child to child depending on many factors including their health and intellectual capabilities. 

What Happens Once a Patient Turns 18? 

The young adult and their parent or guardian need to understand that once the patient turns 18, they are responsible for making their appointments and are responsible for their health care. The young adult can sign a release allowing their parent or guardian to contact their provider for them, but this should be discussed with the patients before they turn 18. Not all patients want their parent or guardian to have the ability to contact the office for them as they may have medical concerns they do not want shared.

For young adults with medical conditions, an assessment should be done to evaluate their understanding of their condition as a part of the transition process. It is imperative that, for example, a young adult with diabetes is able to understand their illness as well the care follow-up they need to safely manage their disease. 

Transitioning to Adult Care 

As part of the transition planning, the pediatrician should help the young adult switch to an adult provider when the time is right. Providers should consistently partner with the patient and the parent or guardian to create a medical summary and medical plan that includes a list of the patient's medical conditions, medications, specialists and their contact information, and any other information that is related to the patient's health.

Often, once a young adult transitions from pediatrics to adult care, the pediatrician acts as a resource for the new provider if any questions about the patient’s medical history arise. 

As a pediatric provider, I have the privilege of knowing many young adults their entire lives. It is imperative that I help those young adults, both healthy and those with medical conditions, transition to adult care to the best of my ability, and to make this switch as seamless as possible. 


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Dr. Mark Myers is a board-certified pediatrician at Elliot Pediatrics at Bedford.

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