SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
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How Do I Switch Doctors?

I'm 14 and would like to switch doctors because I have been seeing a pediatrician. At what age do most people switch? How do I do it?
- Rachelle*

There's no set age for making switching from a pediatrician to an adult doctor — it can be whenever a person feels ready. Most pediatricians stop seeing patients somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21, so you'll need to make the switch eventually. Now is a good time to take the first step and start getting involved in making decisions about your health.

Pediatricians are trained to treat teens, so it's perfectly fine to continue to see your pediatrician as long as you feel comfortable. However, some people find it harder to connect with their childhood doctors as they get older. It's not easy to talk about serious topics like gyn exams if you have a doc who still thinks it's cute to tickle your belly and hand out Spongebob stickers. If you think you've outgrown your pediatrician, talk to your parents about making a switch.

Since there's so much going on health-wise during our teen years, you may want to see a health care provider who specializes in caring for teens. Adolescent medicine specialists have extra training in the medical and emotional issues that many teens face. Visit the Society for Adolescent Medicine's website. They have a database to help people find an adolescent health professional.

Can't find an adolescent medicine specialist in your area? Don't worry — family practitioners, internists, or ob/gyns can help you too. Ask your parents or older siblings to suggest doctors, or get recommendations from your school nurse.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.