Need to see a doctor but feeling too old to ask your parents to make an appointment? You’re not alone. Taking on responsibility for your own health care can seem like a huge task. Your health may not feel like a priority right now, but you likely want to establish your independence. Here’s a great place to start. By taking a few simple steps, you can ensure that you are able to take care of yourself, become more independent and remain healthy as you grow older.
Pediatricians specialize in caring for children and adolescents, typically until they turn 18. 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. It’s important to get involved now, before you live on your own or go off to school, 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:
Ask Questions – 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 – There are no stupid questions. 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.
Take Responsibility – Ask your parents to go over important information with you, like your health insurance plan number, your immunization record, medical history 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, this is your health care experience – so make it yours! Ask questions, get informed and discuss your goals with your health care providers. By doing so you’ll get the confidence boost you need to make informed decisions about your health and wellness.