A Guide to Getting Older and Changing Health Care Providers (HCP's)
As you get older your health care needs will change. The teen years are a good time to talk with your HCP about whether you need to transfer your health care to an adult doctor or nurse practitioner or if your health care can be managed by your family doctor. It's normal to feel uncomfortable about this change at first. After all, you probably have known your pediatrician for most of your life.
What are transitions?
Transitions are times when changes in your life occur. Moving toward adulthood is a time of major transitions.
During this time you will likely:
- Take on new challenges
- Do more things on your own
- Have more choices
- Gain a new sense of freedom and independence
- Take on more responsibility
Who can help me plan my transition to adult health care?
- Your pediatrician or nurse practitioner
- Your social worker or clinic nurse
- The transition nurse coordinator
- Your parent(s) or guardian(s)
- An older sibling or relative
- A friend who has been through the same process
Taking steps toward transitions:
By age 16
- Learn about your condition and any special health care needs.
- Learn about health care transitions and how they will affect you as you grow older.
- Make a list of things you need to stay healthy.
- Make your own medical appointments and keep track of them.
- Write down questions that you have for your doctor or nurse practitioner.
- Spend time alone with your health care provider and any ask questions you may have.
By age 18
- Learn about your health insurance coverage.
- Explore options for adult health care - both primary and specialty care.
- Establish a support system (family, friends, teachers).
- Register to vote.
By age 21-25
- Focus on adult-needs health care, independent living, employment, relationships, & finances.
- Transfer your health care to an adult setting.
- Actively work with your health care team to ensure that you receive optimal care.
When should I transfer my care to an adult provider?
- When your medical needs are better handled by an adult health care provider in a clinic or other setting that serves adults.
- When you and your current health care provider decide the time is right.
How do I pick a new health care provider?
- Ask your pediatrician for a referral to an adult provider.
- Check the health care providers listed under your parent(s) or guardian(s) health insurance policy.
- Meet with your new health care provider to see if it's a good match.
What can I do to make my transition to adult health care easy?
- Learn about your health insurance and the coverage you have.
- Know what your health care needs are and how to explain them to another adult.
- Know the phone numbers of your health care providers and specialists.
- Make a list of your medical conditions, if you've had surgery (include dates if you can remember and the reason for the surgery), and if you have spent time in the hospital for any other reason. Be sure to write down when and what you were treated for.
- Make a list of any medications you take on a regular basis. Include prescription medicine as well as any over-the-counter medication (be sure to write down why you take the medicine and for what symptoms).
- Find out if you have any allergies to medications or food.
- Know how to get a copy of your medical records. Your new health care provider will need them before your first appointment.
- Keep your medical appointments to help you stay healthy.
Transitioning from a teen to an adult, takes planning. Soon you will need adult centered care that can focus on meeting the variety of needs adults have. The people who know you at your health care facility will help you when the time comes to transfer care to adult doctors. They want to make sure you are getting the services and treatment that are best for you.
Ask yourself the following questions to see how close you are to managing your own health care.
How well do I manage my own health care?
|I know my height, weight, birth date, and social security number.|
|I know the name of my condition; can explain my special health care needs, and can tell you about my health status.|
|I know who to call in the case of an emergency.|
|I ask questions during my medical appointments.|
|I respond to questions from my health care providers.|
|I know what kind of medical insurance I have.|
|I know the names of my medications and what they do.|
|I know how to get my prescriptions refilled.|
|I know where to find my medical records.|
|I have discussed the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs with my provider.|
|I have discussed sexuality issues with my provider.|
|I know how to schedule a medical appointment.|
|I keep a schedule of my medical appointments on a calendar.|
|I can get myself to my medical appointments.|
If you checked:
Super. You are already taking on adult responsibilities. You are ready to transition your health care and should talk to your health care providers about a transition plan.
You are on your way! You are actively taking on many responsibilities in your health care. Pick a few more responsibilities from the checklist to do before your next appointment. Also, start talking about transitions with your health care providers.
5 or less
Now is a good time to start taking on more responsibility of your health care. Pick one new responsibility form the checklist and practice it at your next appointment. If you need help, ask a friend, parent, nurse, social worker, or health care provider.
You need a primary health care provider so that your health can be checked regularly. This helps to catch any problem early so that it doesn't become worse...