Chosing the Right Physician

There are lots of different types of doctors and health care providers, and for each type there can be differences in their focuses and restrictions on the ages of patients they will see. At Legacy, we have several options for patients to help guide you through. But for now, let’s talk about the other options for providers and doctors you can see. We’ve put together this overview of the different focuses they have and.

Pediatricians by definition see children, usually from age newborn to 18 years old, but sometimes they’ll see you a little longer, especially if you have a lot of medical conditions they’ve been handling for a long time. And let’s face it, it can be awkward talking about birth control or condoms in a room filled with kids’ toys. We get it.

A new-ish kind of provider specializes in something called Adolescent Medicine. This can be a great transitional service for tweens and teens into early 20’s because they typically see patients from 12 years old till 21 years old. They work just like regular providers but often are able to do more teenager services, like sexual health, depression and other mood changes, college readiness, in addition to helping your allergy symptoms, your sprained knee, and other everyday illnesses. They do checkups, sports physicals, vaccines, and everything else, but with a teenage twist. One of their specialties is also counseling about adolescent and teenage issues. It’s a great option to transition from your pediatrician.

Family Medicine is much like Adolescent Medicine in that they see a wide variety of conditions, but they see all ages, often from newborns to the elderly. If you decide to see Adolescent Medicine until you are 21 years old, Family Medicine would likely be the step after that since they see adults.

OB/GYN doctors see patients for prenatal and post-partum (pregnancy) care and at almost any age after menstruation for regular OB/GYN checkups and exams – although usually patients wait until they are at least 18 years old. As of now, a Pap smear is not recommended until 21 years old so you could even wait until then. For patients who made need to see an OB/GYN sooner, you can start by discussing your concerns with your primary care provider.

This chart is an example of different complaints and which providers may be best suited to help. However, these are generalized. Not all providers in all clinics help with these complaints.

Adolescent Medicine Family Medicine OB/GYN Pediatrician
I need an annual wellness exam
I need a camp, sports or school physical exam
I need vaccines
I have a chronic condition (e.g., asthma, diabetes)
I have a cold/cough/sore throat
I have acne/skin problems
I hurt myself exercising/playing sports
I want to gain/lose weight
I want help eating better
I feel tired/sleeping all the time
I’m feeling depressed/anxious
I cannot focus in school
I’m being bullied
I need relationship advice
I think I’m in the wrong body
I drink alcohol/smoke weed all the time and want to stop
I need advice on sexual health
I need an STD/STI check
I need a yearly gynecology exam *
I have vaginal bleeding problems
I want an IUD
I’m pregnant
* Before 18 years old, they don’t do regular check ups

All providers are here to help take care of you but hopefully this takes some of the mystery and hesitancy out of choosing providers. If you have any other questions, you can reach out to your provider or your clinic’s Care Team Assistant.