Too old? When kids outgrow their pediatrician

This post originally appeared on August 9, 2012. It was last updated on August 17, 2017. 

I was about to leave for college after a summer home when my mom made an innocent suggestion.

“Perhaps you should go to the doctor for a check-up.”

If your doctors office still looks like this in your 20s it may be time to consider switching doctors bennadel.com  Too old? When kids outgrow their pediatrician Photo

If your doctor’s office still looks like this in your 20s, it may be time to consider switching doctors (bennadel.com)

I groaned. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my doctor. He was smart, funny, and a good listener. The problem was he was my pediatrician – and I was 19 years old.

I went for the appointment, and soon after scheduled a follow-up with an on campus OB/GYN to discuss the more delicate matters – birth control, breast exams, etc.

It seems my experience wasn’t that unique. Many pediatric practices encourage patients to stay until they are finished with college. Yet, this is an issue parents need to tackle on a child-by-child basis.

Consider: Does your child feel comfortable with their doctor as they mature? Can they have an open, honest dialogue with their pediatrician about their overall health? And yes, I mean their sexual health.

As for your pediatrician, when your child hits puberty ask:

  • How many teenagers are in the practice?
  • At what age does he/she stop treating patients?
  • How do they handle physical exams of private parts?  Is there an option to have a same-sex physician do the examination?
  • Are all discussions private and confidential between the doctor and the patient?

Having those frank talks with your child and doctor will help you make the right decision. Parents with older children: Do you have a plan? When will your child make the switch?

To find a trusted pediatrician or primary care doctor near you, start the search on Vitals.

Want to see how pediatric care compares across different U.S. cities? Read more about that in our 2017 Access to Pediatricians report