Adolescent medicine specialists focus on the physical, psychological, social and sexual development of adolescents and young adults.
Adolescent medicine specialists must first complete seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training and become board certified in Internal Medicine (or pediatrics). Then, for an additional one to three years, they study conditions specific to adolescents.
What adolescent medicine specialists do
Adolescent medicine specialists evaluate medical and behavioral problems within the context of puberty and tailor management to the patient’s developmental needs. Commonly-treated problems include growth and development disorders, vision and hearing disorders, learning disabilities, musculoskeletal problems (often sports related), allergies, acne, eating disorders, substance abuse, psychosocial adjustment problems, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and pregnancy, and sexual identity concerns.
When you need an adolescent medicine specialist
Often a primary care physician will refer you to an adolescent medicine specialist when a problem associated with adolescence requires special attention. In some cases, a family member might recognize this need and suggest you consult an adolescent medicine specialist.
How adolescent medicine specialists work with other physicians
Sometimes adolescent medicine specialists work with other physicians, advising them about a specific diagnosis or treatment plan. In other cases, they act as a manager, relying on many skilled professionals — other subspecialists of internal medicine, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, and social workers.