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A Guide to Getting Older and Changing Health Care Providers (HCP's)


As you get older your health care needs will change. Your teen years are a good time to talk with your health care provider (HCP) about whether you need to transfer your health care to an adult doctor, physicians assistant, nurse practitioner, or if your health care can continue to be managed by your family doctor. This doesn’t mean that your pediatrician (a doctor who cares for children and teens) doesn’t care about you anymore; it just means that now that you are closer to being an adult, and you’ll need to have an HCP who focuses on treating adults rather than children. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable about this change at first. After all, you’ve probably 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:

Who can help me plan my transition to adult health care?

Transitions are a part of growing up. They can be fun, exciting, and rewarding, but they also take a lot of planning.


Steps to take toward transition:


By age 13 or 14, you should:

By age 15 or 16, you should:

By age 17 or 18, you should:

By age 21 (and older), you should:

When should I transfer my care to an adult provider?

How do I pick a new health care provider?

What can I do to make my transition to adult health care easy?

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 health care providers. 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?

If you checked 11-15 sentences: Super! You are already taking on adult responsibilities. You are ready to transition your health care and should talk to your HCP’s about a transition plan.


If you checked 6-10 sentences: 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 HCP’s.


If you checked 5 or less sentences: Now is a good time to start taking on more responsibility for your health care. Pick one new responsibility from the checklist and practice it at your next appointment. If you need help, ask a friend, parent, nurse, social worker, or health care provider.


Additional Resources:


For more information and resources to help you with the transition, visit


Written by the CYWH and YMH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 7/8/2014


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