Ask the Experts by Anna Farhat, MD
Q: When is the right time to switch to a primary care physician from a pediatrician for my children?
A: This is a question many parents ask themselves as their kids grow into teenagers/young adults. Most pediatricians will see people up to 18-22 years old. At that point getting their input on recommendations for their next doctor is a great idea. Many work closely with either family or internal medicine physicians and can give firsthand advice.
It’s important to work with someone you feel comfortable with. Finding a new doctor can be a little like dating. Comfort level is extremely important to ensure communication and the best care. If your female child prefers to have a female physician to talk about when to start pap smears, or about contraceptives, that is perfectly OK.
One of the most important things is making sure that they are aware of all their medical history. That includes chronic or past illnesses, medications they take, surgeries, and their family history. This is all information that physicians gather to ensure we can provide optimal care. Oftentimes we see kids who come in not being clear about why they’re there. Ensuring they know about their own histories is a vital aspect of their becoming more independent.
Both family physicians and internists can see your children and discuss both preventative care and take care of their acute concerns. The promise of developing a new relationship with someone who they will continue to see for the years to come can be both stressful and exciting. I think the key is to be prepared and knowledgeable about your own history and do your research. Ask your pediatrician for suggestions, or search online for a list of physicians in your area.
Anna Farhat, MD, is a family medicine physician at Ascension St. John Hospital. She has a special interest in pediatrics and women’s health. She has been named “Mom-Approved Doc” by Metro Parent 2 years in a row. She can be reached at 586-777-2050. Ascension St. John is a member of The Family Center’s Association of Professionals.