Transitioning From Pediatric Care to Adult Care
Children have different medical and emotional needs than adults. Where they might be similar to the untrained eye, pediatric medicine is an entirely different world than adult medicine for everyone involved. Children begin developing the minute they are conceived, and don’t stop developing until early adulthood. (Different ages for different theorists.)
Pediatricians and pediatric chronic illness doctors, nurses, and specialists must take into account that their patient is still developing mentally and physically. Having the right skill set to work with a developing human is vital in a child’s care. They must understand how to work with families as well as the pediatric patient.
Hitting the age where your children’s hospital tells you to move onto the adult hospital is terrifying.The transition from pediatric hospitals and doctors to adult hospitals and doctors is an immense change. There are a lot of differences. For one, you are now in control of your own care; you are the one signing the consent forms and waivers. In the same respect, your family must have a confidentiality code to speak with a nurse about you, unlike in a children’s hospital, your parents automatically have the right to be filled in on your care.
Another thing you’ll realize as you get older is the amount of responsibility on you. For example, now that I’m allowed to handle my own medical paperwork, phone calls and appointments, my overworked mother makes me. It is my responsibility to make sure I have enough formula and syringes and medication, and it is often my job to talk to insurance when my mom doesn’t have the time. People expect more of you when you transition into adulthood; even doctors assume you know everything about your care and it is not solely with your parents anymore.
The biggest change for me, personally was my inpatient experiences. Having to go from a child life specialist, an art therapist, a music therapist, a teen room, halloween parties and costumes, trips to the garden and the in-hospital library, to… nothing. I once talked about this scary transition with a therapist, and they replied with “the hospital isn’t supposed to be summer camp.” And she is correct, but the hospital shouldn’t be Hell either. Having all of those resources through Child Life made my anxiety so much weaker, and my fight even stronger. Not having any way to communicate with other people my age on the unit, and not having anything to do to keep my mind off of feeling sick and the trauma that the hospital induces is devastating every time I get admitted to an adult hospital.
Another inpatient difference was what exactly the hospital treats. By this, I mean, most adult hospitals do not have eating disorders or adolescent medicine floors. Adolescent medicine is an essential part of a children’s hospital, because adolescence is an essential part of a human’s development. Most children’s hospitals have eating disorder patients housed on these floors, yet when you go to an adult hospital with an eating disorder, there are normally no programs for you.
Overall, transitioning from pediatrics to adult hospitals is a shock, and sometimes even traumatic. My tips for living without child life is to bring your own arts and crafts, journals,books and your laptop. And facetime friends while you’re there if they can’t visit!
By: Juliet Inforzato
(@gp_cooks - instagram and youtube)
(@anti.ana.army - instagram and blog)