Thanks for checking out our teen page!

Our Providers have put together some answers to questions we hear a lot from teens in our office. They've also included answers to some questions you maybe haven’t thought of yet.

Simply click on the question to see the answer.

Should I still be coming to a pediatric provider? Pediatricians are Doctors for little kids, right?

Pediatricians have training in taking care of children from birth through adolescence and even into young adulthood.  Pediatricians focus on child and teen development and are prepared to take care of all issues that teenagers face.  We also don’t want you to have to find a new doctor when you turn 18 and are busy with college and/or work, so we will see you through age 21.  We want to make sure our office is comfortable and inviting for teens and young adults as well as for the little kids.

Can I talk to my doctor about personal stuff? There are a lot of questions I’m not sure I want my parents to know how I answered, how is that kept confidential?

We encourage you to be open with your doctor about all of your concerns.  We do ask a lot of personal questions!  We have policies in place from our front desk to our doctors and nurses to the medical records and billing departments to keep your information confidential.  We think it’s important to ask questions to help identify risk-taking behaviors that teens sometimes engage in. We want to make sure you are safe in all the areas of your life, and to evaluate your physical, emotional, and mental health needs.

There are certain incidences when we will need to tell your parent something that you told us confidentially, for example, if we are concerned you might harm yourself or others or that you are being hurt.

Can I come to this office if I want birth control? What about if I think I’m depressed? What kind of appointments and services do you offer?

We can manage most issues in our office.  If we are unable to handle the issue in office, we are always available to help you navigate your choices and point you in the right direction.

Many of our providers prescribe some forms of birth control such as the pill, the patch and the shot.  If you’re interested in a long-acting reversible contraceptive such as the implant or IUD we can refer you to a specialist.

We can evaluate and treat conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression. We can also make recommendations for counselors and therapists.  At times we do refer to psychiatrists or use the PALs line for immediate telephone consults with psychiatrists when needed.

I know I’ll have to be responsible for my medical care as an adult. How do I start?

Eventually you will be solely responsible for your medical care.  Part of our job is help you transition from seeing a pediatric provider with your parent to accessing health care from an adult provider on your own.  Here are some things for you to work on now to make that transition easier.

  • Work on talking directly to your provider. During teen well visits we will ask your parents to step out of the room to talk to you one on one.
  • Learn your personal medical history (things like diagnoses, hospitalizations, medications and allergies) and ask your parent about health problems in your family. You can keep all your medical information in a note on your phone, in a file at home, or on a card in your wallet. Some useful apps include Evernote, My Medical, and the Health App on iPhones.
  • Know who all your medical providers are (primary doctor, dentist, any specialists or therapists you see) and have their phone numbers.
  • Consider calling to make your own appointment next time you need to come in. You’ll need to know if you are coming in for a physical or a sick visit.  You’ll be asked the reason for the sick visit. You can be vague or say it’s for a personal issue if you need to. Have your contact and insurance information handy.
What changes when I come to this office after I turn 18?

When you turn 18 the biggest change is that, unless we have your written consent, we cannot share any of your medical information with your parents.  So if we need to talk to you about a lab result, or clarify a prescription, we will have to talk to you directly.  It’s a small change but one that sometimes surprises teens and parents. You can ask for a form from our front desk staff if you want to give your parent consent to act on your behalf after you turn 18. You will need to renew this form yearly. You can revoke access anytime.

If I’m on my parent's insurance, will they know what my visit was for?

If you are covered under your parent’s insurance, as most teens are, your parents will receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) after each visit.  If you have concerns about what information may be included on that, please ask your provider.

What are the vaccines recommended for teens? Do I really need them and what are the side effects?

There are several vaccines which are recommended for adolescents between ages 11 to 18. Below is a brief summary, for more detailed information see http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines or http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center.

The Tdap vaccine is required for school attendance in Alaska.  It is a booster dose, meaning you received the primary series of this vaccine as a baby.  The “t” refers to tetanus.  Tetanus is transmitted by a spore that lives in the soil and can cause lockjaw, which is a potential fatal paralysis. You can get it when the spore gets into your blood stream (the classic example is from stepping on a rusty nail).The “p” is pertussis or whooping cough.  This illness can cause a chronic cough that lasts for months and for which there is no treatment.  It can cause respiratory failure and even death particularly in young infants and the elderly but occasionally in healthy young people.

The Gardasil, Menactra, Bexsero, and flu vaccine are recommended vaccines but are not currently required by Alaska school. Gardasil is a series of two or three shots that protect against the HPV virus.  This is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer in women, mouth and throat cancer in men, and genital warts in both.  The Menactra and Bexsero vaccines protect against a bacterium called meningococcus, which can cause rapidly progressive infections of the bloodstream and brain. This illness is more common in college dorms and military barracks.  Finally, we recommend an annual flu shot for all our patients.  The flu typically causes a week to 10 days of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and upset stomach.  Every year thousands of Americans die from complications of the flu such as pneumonia.

Side effects of the vaccines are typically mild. The most common is pain at the injection site for a day or two.  Occasionally patients will have low fevers or achiness afterwards; however, all of the above vaccines are “inactivated” so they cannot cause disease (even the flu shot). If you have a symptom after getting a vaccine that you think might be a side effect, please call our office.

Teen & Young Adult Resources:

Your Health Care Rights

Your Healthcare Rights

Information for teens about their rights to consent and confidentiality in health and mental health care.

Teens, Privacy, & Health

Alaska Teen Rights

Building Healthy Relationships

Building Healthy Relationships

Resources to learn about healthy and safe dating relationships and for education, counseling, advocacy and help for those in unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Love is Respect

Safe Dating

Healthy Relationships

One Love

Text “loveis” to 22522; Call 1-866-331-9474; Chat online 24/7/365

Sex Education

Sex Education

Offers message boards, text service, online chat and advice columns on a variety of relationship and sexuality topics.

Relationships & Your Body

Sex Ed For the Real World

Chat by texting “PPNOW” to 774636 (PPINFO)

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Resources

Tips for looking after your emotional health, info about and resources for depression.

Emotional Health

Hotline for
referrals for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Hotline

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention

Alaska CARELINE 1-877-266-HELP

Trevor Lifeline

Support for LGBTQ youth in crisis 1-866-488-7386

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National hotline and resources for teens, Native Americans, LGBTQ and others 1-800-273-8255

Making a Difference

Making a Difference

Resource for community and worldwide social action campaigns for teens and young adults.

Do Something, Click Here!

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

Tips on healthy eating, reading nutrition labels, and activity guides for teens

Healthy Eating