Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Adolescent medicine

If you thought -- like I did -- geriatrics is a young field, here's a sub-specialty that's even younger (and even less popular!): adolescent medicine:

“We do dermatology, sports medicine, psychology, gynecology, orthopedic issues, psychosocial issues, substance abuse and address problems of developing sexuality,” said Dr. Brown, a specialist in adolescent medicine who is chairman of pediatrics at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa.

“We’re highly trained generalists for a specific population — like gerontologists,” he said. “But either we’ve done a poor job of marketing ourselves or there is something about the field.”

Here's why pediatricians -- mere 'baby doctors'! -- are just not good enough to tackle 'adolescent problems':

Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Adolescent Medicine recommend that primary-care physicians monitor teenagers for drug and alcohol use, smoking, sexual activity (including disease prevention and use of birth control), physical activity, nutrition, depression, school behavior and social pressures. Yet various studies have shown that many pediatricians feel inadequately prepared to address most of these issues.

A father in Indianapolis, who did not want to identify himself to protect the privacy of his shy 12-year-old daughter, said: “Our pediatrician is a great guy around everyday things, but he’s not adolescent-focused. He won’t ask her about sex or alcohol or drugs. It’s just not in his repertoire. He’s a baby doctor, oriented toward the quickie office visit.”