Keep Your Teen Healthy: Schedule an Adolescent Well-Care Visit
When’s the last time your teenager wanted to have a checkup?
Probably not recently!
In fact, only 1 in 3 Oregon adolescents go to the doctor for yearly visits, also called adolescent well-care visits.
Many teens don’t want to see a doctor, because they feel healthy. But well-care visits are key to your teenager’s health. This is especially true since many teens may eat poorly, have unprotected sex, or use drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
“Adolescents have the reputation for taking risks, sometimes unnecessary risks. That’s why it’s important that they have a healthcare provider that they’re comfortable with,” says Dr. Troy Stoeber, pictured at left, an Oregon City pediatrician with the FamilyCare Health network.
When your child has a relationship with his or her pediatrician or primary care provider (PCP), that’s another trusted grown-up with whom your child can discuss problems or tough decisions.
During a well-care visit, your teen will talk privately with their doctor about difficult subjects. Your teen will also get a physical exam and an update on shots, if needed.
“You never really know if teenagers are abusing drugs and alcohol unless you ask the questions,” says Dr. Stoeber.
Physical and mental illnesses that start in the teen years can sometimes become lifelong problems. So can risky behaviors. For example, almost 90% of adult cigarette users began smoking before they were 18 years old.
In adolescent well-care visits, doctors encourage positive habits including:
- Healthy eating
- Safe sex
- Stress management
“It’s critical that adolescents are making healthy decisions as they grow from school age to adulthood,” says Dr. Stoeber.
Your teenager may not want to see the doctor because they’re worried about privacy. Tell your teen that conversations in well-care visits will be kept confidential. (But doctors may need to reach out for extra help if your teenager is involved in activities that could hurt them or others.)
Dr. Stoeber tries to build trusting relationships with his patients by welcoming all questions, big and small. Many teens ask about bodily changes, hygiene, school, and relationships.
“The answer is: it’s normal,” says Dr. Stoeber.
Dr. Stoeber encourages teens to seek information from other people in their lives who can be trusted. Maybe a relative, a teacher, a mentor, or a counselor. Otherwise, teens may turn to unreliable sources, like their friends or the internet, to find answers to their questions.
Through the years, Dr. Stoeber has watched some of his patients grow up.
“It’s very rewarding,” he says. “It’s an important job and I take it seriously. It’s an opportunity to affect the health care of a generation.”
Adolescent Well-Care Visits
What to expect:
- A physical exam
- Update on shots
- Honest talk, one on one
In the summer, when the doctors’ offices are usually less busy. That gives teens and their doctors more time to talk.
Try to schedule an appointment before mid-August. That’s when most doctors’ offices are packed with school athletes getting sports physicals.
Be sure to ask for an adolescent well-care visit when you call to schedule the exam.
Does FamilyCare Health cover adolescent well-care visits?
Who to contact:
If you already have a pediatrician or primary care provider (PCP) within the FamilyCare Health network, make a well-care appointment with them.
If you don’t have a pediatrician or PCP, search our provider directory to find one near you.
How to prepare for a visit:
Ask your teen to write down their questions and concerns so they can remember to ask their doctor.