Adolescent medicine

Adolescent Medicine Physician
  • Physician
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Fields of
Hospitals, Clinics
Related jobs

Adolescent medicine also known as adolescent and young adult medicine is a medical subspecialty that focuses on care of patients who are in the adolescent period of development. This period begins at puberty and lasts until growth has stopped, at which time adulthood begins. Typically, patients in this age range will be in the last years of middle school up until college graduation (some doctors in this subspecialty treat young adults attending college at area clinics, in the subfield of college health). In developed nations, the psychosocial period of adolescence is extended both by an earlier start, as the onset of puberty begins earlier, and a later end, as patients require more years of education or training before they reach economic independence from their parents.

Medicine is often categorized most simply as pediatric and adult, with the pediatric category covering from infancy through both childhood and adolescence. However, such categorization is further divided in some contexts, such that adolescent medicine can be a more specific focus within pediatrics and geriatrics can be a more specific focus within adult medicine.

Issues with a high prevalence during adolescence are frequently addressed by providers. These include:

Gay, lesbian and bisexual young people

Adolescents who are gay, lesbian or bisexual tend to demonstrate more risky health behaviors and have worse health outcomes compared to heterosexual youth, including:

  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidality
  • Eating disorders and body image
  • Sexual behaviors, including unintended pregnancy involvement (Contrary to assumptions, gay, bisexual or lesbian youth are more likely to report involvement in pregnancy compared to their heterosexual peers)
  • Homelessness, which affects health and access to care

Chronic conditions

The rising dominance of chronic conditions over acute conditions, along with dramatic improvement in life expectancy, has made the management of such chronic conditions in adolescence of greater importance: Chronic conditions and adolescent development are mutually impactful.[citation needed]

Chronic conditions often cause delay in onset of puberty and temporary or permanent impediments to growth; conversely the growth and hormonal changes can destabilize treatment for the chronic condition. An increase in independence can lead to gaps in self-management, for example, in the decreased management of diabetes.

Young peoples' access to health care

In addition, issues of medical ethics, particularly related to confidentiality and the right to consent for medical care, are pertinent to the practice of adolescent medicine.

Marginalised young people’s access is affected by their ability to recognize and understand health issues; service knowledge and attitudes toward help seeking; structural barriers; professionals' knowledge, skills, attitudes; service environments and structures; ability to navigate the health system; youth participation; and technology opportunities. Marginalised young people’s healthcare journeys can be supported by advocates that help them navigate the health system.

The particular needs of young people when accessing healthcare have also led the WHO to publishing guidelines for adolescent-friendly health care, in an effort to increase adolescents utilization of the healthcare system.


Adolescent medicine providers are generally drawn from the specialties of pediatrics, internal medicine, med/peds or family medicine. The certifying boards for these different specialties have varying requirements for certification, though all require successful completion of a fellowship and a passing score on a certifying exam. The American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Internal Medicine require evidence of scholarly achievement by candidates for subspecialty certification, usually in the form of an original research study.

In the United States, subspecialty medical board certification in adolescent medicine is available through the specialty boards of American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians, the American Board of Pediatrics, and the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics.

List of adolescent health centers in the United States

Many subspecialists practice as part of general specialty clinics or practices, or in high school or college clinics. In addition, many major metropolitan areas have clinics that offer adolescent-specific care. A partial list includes:[citation needed]

San Antonio, Texas

Dallas, Texas

  • Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic at Children's Medical Center (Dallas)
  • Windhaven Adolescent Medicine Clinic at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital (Plano)
  • Girls to Women Health and Wellness (North Dallas)
  • Young Men's Health and Wellness (North Dallas)

U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Spring, Colorado

Kansas City, Missouri

Indianapolis, Indiana

New York City, New York

Dayton, Ohio

Rochester, New York

Los Angeles, California

San Francisco area


  • Adolescent Center Boston Medical Center
  • Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School Teen Health Center
  • CHA Cambridge Teen Health Center
  • Center for Adolescent & Young Adult Health, Milford
  • Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston
  • Everett Teen Health
  • Somerville High School Somerville Teen Connection
  • Teen Health Center in Boston Tufts Children's Hospital

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Columbus, Ohio

Seattle, Washington

Cincinnati, Ohio

Richmond, Virginia

Fayetteville, North Carolina

List of adolescent health centers in Australia

These hospitals offer adolescent-specific care:[citation needed]



Relationship with college health

In the United States, the subspecialty of college health is closely affiliated with adolescent medicine. Many adolescent medicine fellowships include rotations in college-based student health clinics and many adolescent medicine physicians work in college health clinics.

Professional organizations

In addition to membership in the organizations for their various specialties, adolescent medicine providers often belong to The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and/or The North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.[citation needed]

Founded in 1987, the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) is a multidisciplinary, non-government organization with a broad focus on youth health.


See also

This page was last updated at 2023-11-15 15:54 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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