Preparing for What Comes Next

Tips by Age

UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics (UPMC CCP) believes an important part of growing up is learning to take more control of your own health and wellness. For years you have been taught valuable health lessons like the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, brushing your teeth at least twice a day prevents cavities, and practicing proper hand hygiene can prevent illnesses. While all those things are important, there is something else that is just as important – developing a good relationship with your healthcare provider.

Establishing a good relationship with your health care provider is a necessary part of growing up. And this relationship starts at a young age. While pediatricians never want our patients to leave us, we know this change is inevitable. And, if we are being honest, it is part of our job to help prepare you for what comes next.

UPMC CCP has put together some tips by age to help you prepare throughout your pre-teen and teenage years for your transition to adult care. Preparing now will make your transition to adult care easier when it is time for you to leave your pediatrician’s office.

Remember you are not alone. Your UPMC CCP care team has been with you since before you can remember and we are still here for you and your parents or guardian now as you navigate this new adventure.

While we encourage teens to take a more active role in their healthcare, a parent or legal guardian should be present for most appointments to consent for care. Talk with your CCP office staff to learn more.

Age 11 to 12

At this age, it is important to start understanding your own physical and mental well-being. Try to do the following during your next pediatrician’s visit.

  • Try to set realistic goals for yourself related to sleep, eating, and exercise. Ask your pediatrician for help if you aren’t sure where to start.
  • If you have a concern about something, try to bring it up yourself during your next visit with your pediatrician. Don’t worry, your parent or guardian will be there to help you if you need it.  
  • The next time you visit the doctor’s office try checking in for your appointment by yourself. You can go up to the registration desk with your parent or guardian, but you should try to do the talking.
It is also important to try and complete any of the screening tools at the doctor’s office by yourself. But it is ok to ask for help if you do not understand the questions.

Age 13 to 15

When you turn 13, federal law allows you to request a confidential visit with your pediatrician without the consent of your parent or guardian. Confidential visits are exactly that – confidential. That means what you say stays between you and the doctor.

Here are some additional changes you can expect during your next visit.

  • To protect your privacy, Pediatric Proxy access automatically changes the night before your 13th birthday to Limited Teen Access. This means your parents will no longer be able to see parts of your medical record. Full Teen Access can be granted to your parent or guardian if you chose to give it. Your pediatrician can discuss next steps with you during your next office visit. Learn more about our Patient Portal and Pediatric Proxy. 
  • Moving forward, your provider will ask your parent or guardian to leave the exam room during each visit so you can have a confidential discussion if you are comfortable. We encourage you to ask any questions about confidentiality, so you understand your rights as a teen.
  • Please share pronouns and the name you would like us to use if it is different than what is in your medical record. This can stay confidential, if necessary.
  • It’s important to tell your provider about any physical or mental health concerns you may have. This includes social conflicts, family conflicts, school problems, vaping, drugs and alcohol, and sexual health.
  • Be sure you understand your medical problems, like asthma or ADHD, and understand how they affect you, how they are managed, and how your environment and the choices you make can affect them. Talk with your provider if you need help understanding any of these things.
  • Know your medications. You should know what they are for, and how your environment and choices can interfere with them. Be sure you are taking them regularly and as prescribed.
  • UPMC CCP offers counseling services. Talk with your pediatrician to learn more about how to access these services. It is also important to identify a trusted adult if you have concerns about your behavioral health or safety. Learn more with our Teen and Young Adult resources. 
  • Continue to learn more by accessing UPMC CCP’s Navigating Teen Life resources.

Age 16 to 17

Now’s the time to start working towards medical independence. We encourage our patients to take complete ownership of their healthcare by age 18. Here are some things you can do over the next few years to help you reach this goal.

  • During your next office visit, make sure your cell phone number is added to your medical record in case your provider needs to contact you directly about confidential information or test results.
  • Practice scheduling your own appointments either online or by calling our office and speaking with a staff member.
  • Before each visit, make a list of things you would like to discuss with your provider. Also, be prepared to give an update on your health since your last visit. This included mental, physical, and sexual health.
  • If you see other doctors than your pediatrician, for example a pediatric specialist, make sure you know who they are, have access to their contact information, and know when your next appointment is scheduled.
  • Know your medications. You should know what they are for, and how your environment and choices can interfere with them. Be sure you are taking them regularly and as prescribed.
  • Set reminders about medication refills so you do not run out.
  • Continue to learn more by accessing UPMC CCP’s Navigating Teen Life resources.

Age 18 and Older

Congratulations. You are officially an adult! And that means it is time to take over managing your own health and wellness.

Your UPMC CCP pediatrician may continue to provide you with care over the next few years, but things may look a little different. Your parents will no longer be actively involved in managing your care. Our providers and staff will want to work directly with you to meet your healthcare goals. Below are some changes you can expect.

  • We encourage you to establish your own Patient Portal account where you can access to your medical records, can make appointments, request medication refills, and message your provider with non-urgent questions. Learn more about MyUPMC.
  • As an adult, it’s important you understand your insurance coverage. This means you should know who your insurance provider is, what type of plan you have, where you are permitted to access services like hospitals or labs. If you have any questions, you can call the Member Benefits phone number on the back of your card to assistance. Remember to bring your insurance card to all medical visits.
  • You will need to understand your medical history so you can communicate it to any new doctors or complete forms. This is another great reason to establish your own Patient Portal account. This information will be easily accessible to you right from your smartphone.
  • We all need support from time to time. It is important to continue to have a trusted adult caregiver as a backup in case you need help during this transition period.
  • You and your pediatrician will have several discussions over the next few years to determine when the appropriate time is for you to transition to adult care. We can make recommendations on trusted adult providers to help make the transition process easier.
  • If you are college-bound, please let your provider know. There are many resources on college campus and your provider can help you to determine which services are right for you based on your medical history.
If you are planning to enter the workforce and need access to your immunization records or other medical information, please call our office. We will be happy to assist you.