Transition to Adult Care 


What is a transition of care?

Transition is the process of going from pediatric health care to adult health care. The transition process may present new challenges for adolescents with chronic illness or special needs and their families. Youth need to practice and become confident in the skills necessary for managing their own health. Families will need to begin to learn about the adult services they may need to support their adolescent in the "adult world" of medicine. 


Adolescents and their families often develop strong bonds with their pediatric care providers. This is an important and integral part of forming our provider-patient relationship! Transitioning to adult care may seem daunting, particularly for the medically complex youth. This transition process may occur over several years. There are specific skills that adolescents can begin to learn as they gain independence that will facilitate this process. Adolescents, families, and medical providers working together as a team will aim to provide the best possible outcome during the transition process. 


We recognize that along with transitioning from pediatric health care to adult care, an adolescent will often also be dealing with other transition processes that include: postsecondary education, employment, financial preparation, transportation, etc. 


Barriers in Care Transitions

Adolescents and their families may experience barriers or concerns in their transition process. These may include: 

  1. Youth or family feel the loss of respected caregivers and may feel "forced" to trust new or unknown caregivers 

  2. Parent's inability to buy into youth's independence or assessing their child's developmental readiness for transition and self-management

  3. Pediatric health care professionals may underestimate the potential independence of their adolescent patients


Self-Management and Advocacy 

It is important to begin working on the following skills with your patient. These are among the factors your child's health care provider will consider in determining his/her ability to self-manage and advocate: 


Can the youth self-manage? 

  1. How well does the youth understand the plan of care? Can the youth explain his/her treatment plan, medication list, reason for taking medications, and any side-effects from medications?

  2. If there is an emergency plan of care, can the youth articulate the plan? If necessary, a medical alert bracelet or system may be put into motion.

  3. Can the adolescent coordinate/schedule medical appointments? Are they aware of the different providers they see, frequency of contacts, and how to reach them?

  4. Does the patient have the information they need to order medication refills, or necessary medical supplies or equipment?


Can the youth self-advocate?

  1. Youth and adolescents should be encouraged to write down their health-related questions prior to appointments

  2. Can the youth/adolescent identify the family members that are involved in the decision making regarding their medical care and transition process?

  3. If there are questions on plan of care, medications, or treatment goals, can the youth articulate these to his/her provider?


Planning for a Transition

What are some of the issues that youth or families may need to address as part of their transition plan?

  1. Choosing adult providers

  2. Self-management of medical conditions

  3. Self-management of medications

  4. Self-management of supplies or equipment

  5. Management of financial resources, insurance

  6. Adult services

  7. Adult decision-making: independent living/housing arrangements, transportation, recreation

  8. Education plans after high school

  9. Employment plans


What information will the adult provider need? (We will complete this and send it to your new provider)

  1. Written Transition of Care 

  2. Copy of clinical summary, including growth charts, problem list, medication list, immunization record

  3. Copy of medical records, office notes

  4. Contact information for pediatric practice


Additional Resources

Please visit the following sites for additional information on the transition to adult medicine: