Adolescent specialists have been trained to provide comprehensive primary care services for children and teenagers during their adolescent years - generally from age 12 to 21.

Watch an Overview of Adolescent Medicine

About Adolescent Medicine

Adolescent medicine is a subspecialty of primary care that incorporates different facets of nutrition, dermatology, sports medicine, psychology, gynecology, endocrinology, and other specialties to treat a variety of medical problems that are common during adolescence. Adolescent medicine has also been deemed an important specialty of medical areas like family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine.

Because adolescence is a very precarious time in a young person’s life, proper health care during this period is essential, and can affect the patient for the rest of their life. Adolescents face a variety of challenges while coming of age including social, emotional, physical and mental changes. Generally speaking, practitioners in this area of medicine will take a holistic approach to treatment practices, attempting to care for the patient from a wider perspective than general practice, and create a report with the patient – which helps them to understand the patient’s life as a whole and provide the appropriate care. These specialists will ask questions such as: “How is your home life?”, “Do you have a balanced diet?” or “Do you drink or smoke?” in their evaluation of the patient. In addition to psychologically-based examinations, standard physical examinations are also performed.

Adolescent physicians play a major role in educating children and teens on how to properly care for their bodies as they begin to mature into adulthood; they will also help to educate and care for patients with regard to their developing sexuality, which can be difficult for many adolescents.

Adolescent Medicine Education & Training

Practitioners of adolescent medicine generally have backgrounds in areas such as family medicine, pediatrics, or internal medicine, in which they have completed the requisite medical degree (DO or MD) and residency training. Following certification in these areas of medicine, a physician may seek accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in adolescent medicine by completing a fellowship through the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM).

Physicians who wish to practice in the area of adolescent medicine must also receive a passing score on an exam administered by the American Board of Pediatrics (in conjunction with the American Boards of Internal Medicine and Family Medicine) to earn a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Adolescent Medicine (Adolescent Medicine Certification Program).

Physicians are trained in outpatient and inpatient consultation practices, preventative and primary adolescent care, family planning for adolescents, as well as outreach and prevention education, allowing them to provide complete comprehensive care.