By Cindy Sihotang, pediatric resident at CHOC
At the CHOC Adolescent Medicine Clinic, you will encounter a dedicated team of specialists whose focus is on comprehensive care. Adolescence is a time of growth and discovery with each teen having their own unique set of needs. You can be seen here for yearly physicals, sports physicals as well as acute sick visits. There is also a special clinic for evaluation and treatment of eating disorders.
What ages can be seen at the adolescent clinic?
Adolescents can start coming to the clinic once they are 13 and can continue to be seen here until the age of 21. We understand that is very broad range of ages with different needs and concerns. Your care is tailored and age-appropriate to ensure it addresses your unique needs and concerns.
What questions will the doctor ask me?
The doctor will likely ask you a lot of questions― that’s just because they want to get to know you! They will ask about your diet, exercise, screen time and school performance. Your doctor will also ask about dental history, hospitalizations/surgeries, medications and family history. We also bring up some other topics that might be hard for you to talk about, but are still very important: drug, alcohol, tobacco use, and sexual activity. We will ask a series of questions to assess your mental health. I We have in-house psychologists who can meet with you during that visit.
What happens during a physical?
What is discussed between a teen and their doctor is confidential. Parents are alerted when the physician senses there are signs of danger. During yearly physicals, we do a thorough history and complete physical exam. We check for appropriate growth, screening for disorders such as obesity and anorexia nervosa by checking your height and weight. Appropriate development is screened by inquiring about school performance. We screen for anemia with hemoglobin checks. Immunizations are updated following the CDC’s schedule. We are also able to provide screenings and treatments for sexually transmitted infections We specialize in helping teens with menstrual concerns, ranging from no periods to heavy periods, or even painful cramps. We can provide important counsel regarding overall health and safety. We will work with you to come up with a plan for healthy eating and exercise, and discuss safety issues such as driving under the influence, safe sex including contraception use, domestic violence, and safety with social media.
Will my parents talk to my doctor without me?
During adolescence, teens take more ownership of their health, and take on some responsibilities that used to fall to their parents. This growth is fostered by providing confidential time for the adolescent to speak one-on-one with their doctor during each visit, without their parent present. Anything discussed during this time is confidential, meaning it stays between the patient and the provider.
What is meant by confidential time to talk with the doctor?
As a teen, you may have significant questions or concerns you’re hesitant to discuss with your doctor while a parent is in the room. As providers, we wish to extend the most complete care possible. State laws protect confidentiality in issues relating to pregnancy prevention, testing and treating sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health. Teens are always encouraged to discuss these topics with their parents, since an open relationship builds trust and parents can provide a breadth of knowledge and experience. A teen’s confidentiality will always be respected unless there is a concern for the adolescent’s health or safety.
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