Previously, the age at which a child could go to their pediatrician was 7 years in the Social Security. Today, most CCAA cover up to 14, but this is not desirable to properly address the different needs of adolescents age.
Adolescent Medicine should include attention to our patients until they complete development. Adolescence is a stage of this development, the pediatrician monitors from birth, and it is important for the physical and psychosocial changes. It is therefore necessary to also make monitoring of the same, respecting individual variations that are very broad.
What aspects of adolescent development are treated?
Linking with this, and from pediatrics outpatient or primary care, addressing teenagers we could consider as a last chance for Preventive Medicine. We must watch, as at any other age, how pubertal changes occur, how they will adapt emotionally adolescent and his family, if health behaviors are correct (food, sleep, hygiene, physical exercise, etc.) and if you have a suitable vaccine schedule. Teenagers are very 'healthy' people from the point of view of disease, but they die or become seriously ill by their risk behaviors. Drug use, accidents and other violence and unprotected sex are some situations that can be prevented. Precisely that is the challenge of Adolescent Medicine: prevention.
What are the current challenges in this field?
For Adolescent Medicine is effective, physicians should approach patients and not wait for them to arrive, as they will do later. Specialists must maintain confidentiality, physically adapt queries and respect your privacy and we have to change schedules so they do not get together with children. Teens should feel that we have a sincere desire to help and we are ready for it.
In most cases, the pediatrician is perfectly suited, especially when a patient who has served since its birth. When you are a teenager who does not know, the question is more difficult if we maintain the current structure of pediatric consultations. For these cases work better care centers for adolescents only (no bureaucratic requirements without prior, free appointment and the hours they can) or at the school itself. In Spain, little by little, new centers are emerging, but so that they do not become mainstream, the new generations of pediatricians should be trained in these issues and understand that it is a rewarding medical practice.