Find the right doctor for your teen

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If your child is on the cusp of puberty, gone are the days when she was placated by a lollipop after a doctor’s visit. Now you likely have to badger or bribe her to see the doctor or outright drag her to medical appointments. Even more challenging for parents is making sure the doctor is a good match for their growing kid’s needs, medically and emotionally.

When Palo Alto, Calif., mom Sally King (not her real name) started thinking about getting her two daughters, 16 and 18, vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection (a major cause of cervical cancer), she realized it was time to change doctors. “I had been taking them to a male pediatrician. I didn’t feel it was comfortable for them.”

So she made an appointment with Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, a clinical instructor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto and an adolescent medicine specialist. Yen made the teens feel at ease, answering their questions as their mother sat in the waiting room.

Teen Medical Care

After a childhood of doctors’ visits aimed at preventing disease and tracking developmental milestones, teens and hair growth, odd smells, periods, and sex.

Enlisting a doctor who really understands teens can ease the process of turning over the medical reins. Was it difficult for Sally King to cut the cord and give her daughters the privacy they needed? “No,” she says. “Dr. Yen made it easy for them to take responsibility.”

After they left the doctor’s office, the trio celebrated with a ritual that appeals to all ages: ice cream.