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Jennifer Walsh, M.D. Answers Questions On Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine

Jennifer Walsh, M.D. Answers Questions On: Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine

What does the Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine specialty entail?

This specialty addresses the needs of teenagers as they are becoming more responsible for making decisions about their health. It focuses on 11- to 18-year-olds, but we will see patients in our clinic up to age 21 or 22 if they have been with us for several years. We provide specialty care in a comprehensive manner with a full understanding of the physical and psychological changes associated with their transition to adulthood.

What type of issues do you help your patients address?

We can discuss any issue they are struggling with, but particularly those that may have a significant impact on their health, such as making healthy food choices; engaging in regular physical activity; avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse; minimizing high-risk sexual activity; and fostering a positive self-image and mental health.

How do you handle confidentiality and when is the appropriate time to involve parents in their care?

Literature has shown that when adolescents have access to confidential health care, they are much more likely to engage in honest discussion about issues they are navigating, including high-risk behavior. We are committed in our clinic to providing that confidential care so that we are able to address concerns they might otherwise not disclose, but certainly do not want to exclude the parent. While we reassure adolescents that anything they share with us is private, we also take every opportunity to encourage our patients to talk openly with their parents, and hope to facilitate these discussions whenever possible.