I recently found myself in our pediatrician’s waiting room with my 20 year old.
He was sick and needed to be seen and, because time had gotten away from us as is so often the case, I had failed to transfer him to our primary care doctor.
So, there we were, sitting in too small chairs, surrounded by board books and wooden toys, vowing to make a change as soon as he was feeling up to it.
Choosing a primary care doctor can be challenging and time consuming. Doing it for the first time as a college student or young adult can be overwhelming, just like it was when you set out to select a pediatrician for them as babies.
After our recent experience at the pediatrician, I took my son for a visit to Patient First.
We’ve partnered with them on a variety of projects recently and we have always had a pleasant, informative experience in their facilities.
It’s no surprise that he decided to select them for his primary care services.
They are open 365 days a year, always have a doctor on staff, allow walk-in appointments, and offer a variety of services in house, including labs, prescriptions, and X-rays, to make getting care seamless and convenient.
They also offer telehealth appointments, urgent care, immunizations and physicals.
If your young adult child is in the process of transitioning from a pediatrician to a primary care doctor and aren’t sure how to choose a primary care doctor, here are a few things to keep in mind as you help them find a medical practice that fits their needs.
From Pediatrics to Primary Care: How to Choose a Primary Care Doctor with Your College Student or Young Adult Child
Help your child feel confident with their medical history.
From a young age we were very open with explaining our children’s medical diagnoses to them and having open discussions with them about treatment plans, prognoses, and the like.
We wanted them to be informed so they could be empowered to speak confidently on their feelings and desires when it came to their personal health and wellness.
We tried not to speak for them at doctor’s appointments and always encouraged them to speak up about what they were feeling. We supported them as advocates for the care and treatment they wanted and deserved.
Arming your children with knowledge to speak factually and confidently about their medical histories can help them be better advocates for their bodies and their own healthcare both when they’re young and when they are in charge of their own medical treatment as young adults.
Give your child plenty of practice with the process.
Not gonna lie, I asked my mom to call and make doctor’s appointments for me well into my adulthood.
She was just so good at it!
It can feel daunting and scary when you’re a young adult taking over all of these things your parents used to do for you, but giving them plenty of opportunities to practice alongside you can help.
Encourage your child to listen in when you call and set or cancel appointments and follow up on lab work and other important tasks when you’re with them so they can hear the questions you ask to get things done.
When they’re ready, give them a chance to call on their own while you’re with them. Have them put the phone on speaker and assure them that they are answering questions well and correctly while they do it.
Once they’ve done it with your support a few times, they will likely feel more confident doing it on their own as well, even if they still ask you to do it for them from time to time.
Help them choose a doctor that supports their specific health needs best.
For many teenagers and young adults, the need to visit the doctor only tends to arise for yearly physicals and the occasional illness.
If your child is in good health and doesn’t struggle with any chronic illnesses, selecting a primary care doctor can be somewhat simpler because they won’t really be spending a ton of time with them.
If your child does have a chronic health issue that requires frequent or more consistent visits, you’ll want to spend a bit more time selecting a provider that you know will understand their diagnoses and be supportive of their care. You’ll want someone who is on board with how they choose to be treated and who understands the various concerns and issues that they are dealing with.
Regardless of your child’s health status, you want to help them choose a primary care doctor that they will feel comfortable with.
It’s okay to test a couple different providers out before settling on one that you like.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask some of your children’s friends’ parents who their child sees and how they feel about going there. Personal recommendations are always a great place to start.
Make sure the office is convenient.
If your child is away at school, the on-campus clinic may be a great fit for away from home care.
But, for when they’re home, you want to have a place that provides quality care while also being as convenient and accessible as an on-campus clinic tends to be.
Anyone with a teenager or young adult at home can appreciate how fluid and unpredictable their schedules can be, so it’s important to find a medical practice that doesn’t have super long lead times to get appointments and offers a variety of services in one convenient location where possible.
Help them navigate insurance.
Insurance can be one of the most challenging parts of receiving healthcare in America.
Understanding who you can see, for what, when and why is overwhelming even for many adults so helping your child make sense of this aspect, particularly while you still carry them on your insurance will help eliminate a lot of frustration about the process.
Have your child with you when you call your insurance company to ask questions or confirm coverage. Let them be a part of the process when you have to get referrals or make appeals. They can learn the various idiosyncrasies of your insurance plan and how to make sure the coverage works for them alongside you.
And be sure to give them experience with the billing process, too. We all know how confusing those “explanation of benefits” letters from the insurance company can be.
If you want to maintain optimal health and wellness, consistent medical care is a must. Teaching your child how to find a primary care doctor that meets their needs is the first step in helping them transition to a healthy, adult lifestyle.
About Patient First
All Patient First medical centers are open every day of the year from 8am to 10pm – including weekends and holidays. Patients can come at times that best fit their schedules and when urgent medical attention is needed on days as well as at times when other facilities are closed. No appointments are necessary. Patients can walk into a Patient First center and receive prompt attention upon arrival. Patients who wish to see a particular physician or physician assistant can call ahead or click here to explore the dates and times when that person will be seeing patients. X-rays, lab tests, and prescription drugs are available on-site to save time and reduce the need for extra trips.
These innovations, along with sophisticated, automated registration and treatment systems and their commitment to an excellent medical staff and quality of care have been widely accepted, allowing Patient First to expand considerably over the years. Patient First now offers both primary and urgent care services and participates in most insurance plans. There are currently 77 Patient First centers in the mid-Atlantic region.