Most people are not aware of the adolescent medicine specialty. They do not think of switching from a pediatrician to a Chicago adolescent medicine specialist, although it is an option. One problem is that there are not very many of these specialists around. It takes two to three years of additional training to become board-certified in this specialty, which has only existed as a board certification with the American Medical Association (AMA) as of 1996. Most of these specialists work near urban centers.
These doctors work with an awkward age group: teenagers. The problems teens experience are different from those of children. Adolescent medicine specialists make teens feel comfortable enough to open up about what their symptoms may be. Teenagers have different health problems than children and adults. These include acne, body image, eating disorders, peer pressure to drink and do drugs, and inexperience with sex. A doctor who can get them to open up about what is worrying them could make a huge difference in their lives.
The three leading causes of teenagers’ deaths are accidents, suicide, and homicide. Many of the problems they face are psychosocial in nature, as opposed to needing a medical diagnosis. Adolescent medicine doctors meet teenagers where they are now, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own health choices. Discussions might include drinking and driving, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, how to take care of one’s skin, and issues related to food and exercise. If a healthy lifestyle is ingrained early enough in a person’s brain, then it will probably continue into adulthood. Some adolescent medicine practices allow the teens themselves to schedule the appointments, thus taking at least partial responsibility for their own care.
A timely visit with an adolescent specialist could save a teen’s life if the doctor establishes trust with the teen and he or she is willing to talk about suicidal feelings or feelings of depression. Opening up to the doctor might help make the teenager feel not so alone, and it could pave the path to more communication between parents and their kids.
Typically, visit to Chicago adolescent medicine specialists will take longer than other doctors’ visits and the patient, without his or her parents present, may end up talking about things unrelated to what the visit was originally scheduled for. There will be less of a feeling of being rushed in and out of the office and more of a feeling of establishing a real relationship with a doctor. That’s what adolescent medicine specialists do. They make connections and provide a safe space during the transition years from child to adult.