KC Parent: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
How to know whether your child has outgrown the pediatrician
By Christa Melnyk Hines
As kids get older, they may begin to resist going to their pediatrician’s office where they are surrounded by screaming babies and toddlers and nurses dressed in teddy bear scrubs.
Should you find a new physician? It depends. According to Amanda Styers, APRN-BC, Teen Primary Clinic/Adolescent Specialty Clinic, Children’s Mercy Hospital, parents should talk to their kids about their level of comfort with their current physician and their preferences.
“Some children will be fine seeing their beloved pediatrician throughout their childhood and adolescence, while others may feel out of place as they develop more ‘grown-up’ concerns and issues,” Styers says.
When to stay. Pediatricians are specially trained to address health issues ranging from birth to age 21, and over the years, establish a relationship with patients and their families.
Also, consider your child’s overall health before switching away from your pediatrician. If your child has a chronic health issue like cystic fibrosis, pediatric-specific GI illnesses or Down’s Syndrome, it might be a good idea to stick with your pediatric specialist.
When to go. If your child is uncomfortable or self-conscious about seeing a pediatrician of the opposite sex, it’s time to find a new doctor.
“Going to a doctor where your child might not be open and honest is not useful,” Styers says.
Although your teen won’t be ready for a physician specializing in adult care, look for a family care physician, who is trained to treat patients of all ages and comfortable addressing common teen issues ranging from sports injuries to anxiety, depression and ADHD.
Or, seek a pediatrician who is focused on adolescent medicine, like the providers at Children’s Mercy’s Teen Primary Care Clinic and Adolescent Specialty Clinic, who see patients between the ages of 12 and 22. Some pediatric practices also try to set aside rooms designed with older patients in mind.
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Learn more about Adolescent Medicine at Children's Mercy