Adolescent medicine specialists are doctors who have specific training and experience in issues that affect teenagers. Their patients may range in age from pre-teens to young adults in their early twenties. Adolescent medicine contains elements of both pediatric medicine and adult (internal) medicine. For example, just like in a pediatrician's office, an adolescent medicine doctor might ask about problems at school or diagnose a learning disorder. Like an adult's doctor, an adolescent medicine specialist may provide gynecological care such as pelvic exams. Furthermore, in many offices a teenage patient can schedule and attend appointments without a parent present. Adolescent medicine is a great way for teens to confidently take on greater responsibility for their health as they become adults.
Adolescent medicine specialists treat minor injuries and illnesses that affect people of all ages, such as strep throat or broken bones. However, their focus is on issues specific to the teenage years, including:
Puberty and growth
Teen sexuality, including sexual orientation, sexual violence, and birth control
Mood disorders and mental health
Bullying, peer pressure, and abuse at home or school
Depending on where you live, it may be hard to find adolescent medicine specialists, especially in a smaller town. While they specialize in providing care for teens, other kinds of doctors such as pediatricians and family practitioners can also treat young people. If you need help finding a doctor, your school nurse should be able to connect you with a physician in your area that knows about teenagers.