Transition of Care Tips for Young Adults
Taking on responsibility for your own health care can seem a huge task, but by starting early to learn the important information that will help you get the care you need, you can ensure that you are able to take care of yourself, become more independent, and remain healthy as you grow older. Whether you’re excited for your transition from pediatric care or anxious and unsure, now is the time to start talking about and planning for this change.
One important change that will occur as you grow older is transitioning from the care of your pediatrician to a primary care provider who cares for adult patients. Pediatricians specialize in caring for children and adolescents, typically until they turn 18. This change is important because it will support the activities you participate in throughout your life – from living on your own or going off to college, to having a job and caring for your own family one day.
Preparing for this change not only means getting care from a new health care provider – it means becoming more knowledgeable about your own health and wellness, becoming responsible for carrying out your own health tasks, and making good health care decisions. Your pediatrician can help you find an adult Primary Care Provider (PCP) who meets your needs and with whom you are comfortable. If you have a chronic illness or complicated medical history, talk with your parents and your pediatrician about when to transition to an adult PCP. Ask questions and get advice. Together, you can create a plan that works best for your needs.
Directing your own health care will be easier once you’ve had some practice, which is why it’s important to get involved now, while your parents and pediatrician can offer support and guidance. Some things to keep in mind that will help you during the transition period are:
It’s important that you make medical decisions with a clear mind and a full understanding of your choices and responsibilities. Write down any questions you may have ahead of time, or bring a notebook to your appointment to record any instructions given to you by your doctor.
Confirm Your Understanding
Sometimes it can be difficult to process what your doctor is telling you. If something is unclear or you have more questions, be sure your provider explains things in a way you can understand.
Say What’s Important to You
Everyone has different goals and priorities for their health and medical care. Make sure your parents and doctor understand yours. This is also a good way to start a conversation and get more involved in your health care.
Ask your parents to go over important information with you, like your health insurance plan number, your immunization record and medical history, and contact information for your health care provider and emergency medical contact. If you have a chronic condition, do you know your diagnosis and the name of the medication(s) you take?
Remember, asking questions and ensuring you are informed is the foundation of any successful care transition. We’ve covered some of the basics here today, and it’s important that every patient incorporate their own questions and goals into their health care. Boosting your confidence and ensuring you have the information to make informed decisions about your health care will give you the tools you need to be successful as you take responsibility for your own health care and wellness.