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When your child is too old for a pediatrician

Saying goodbye is hard to do

Scott Morrison pediatrician transition

I looked up names of songs about saying goodbye. “Someone Like You” by Adele, “Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles, “Don’t You Forget About Me” by the Simple Minds.

This is exactly how I felt recently when my son, Scott, had to move on from our pediatrician of 18 years. I remember my husband and I being so anxious to decide which pediatric office we were going to choose. We visited many places trying to get the “right” feel for the place we knew would be important but eventually would become family.

Over the years, Scott had been to the doctor for things like well checkups, vaccinations, ear infections, strep throat. When things got more serious, his pediatrician helped us navigate painful migraines that started when he was 5. When things really got tough, he helped us through those formative puberty years. Thank goodness for professional advice on what to say and not say.

There’s nothing like finding the right pediatrician. It’s not just any doctor’s office; it’s another set of hands helping you raise your child. It’s the voice that calms you down when you don’t know what to do — or when you know what to do but need validation. It’s the front desk person who gives you that understanding look, the medical assistant and nurse practitioner who calm you with a reassuring voice.

What’s on your mind?

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My son recently turned 18 and my first thought (behind feeling a tad bit older) was the pain of giving up our pediatrician. There are so many relationships that don’t last as long as 18 years. What am I going to do now? It’s like having a best friend move away.

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My energy shifted to trying to find an “adult” doctor who would help me transition out of the decision making for Scott. My son is ready to be in control of his health care.

I worried though. Would the new physician’s office be able to get him in as quickly as the pediatrician had? Do I go with him on the first visit? Would they be able to help him navigate his health care from college?

Oh yeah, college. I really felt a sense of urgency to find a home-based physician before he went away to school. To have someone close that we could call, just in case, would put my mind at ease. (Did I mention Scott is going to college in Olympia, Washington — Two thousand. Four hundred. Eleven. Miles away.)

So I made a checklist. We knew we wanted:

  • A Norton Healthcare physician (We love MyNortonChart, which will allow Scott to contact the physician from school and even do a Norton eCare visit if needed.)
  • A practice close to our home
  • A male physician (Scott’s preference)
  • A practice that would provide compassionate and personalized care

We have been very lucky to find a Norton physician who fits Scott like a charm.

I asked Scott what he thought of his first visit to the new practice. With the pediatrician, he said he always just did what they told him to do. But with his new “adult” doctor, he felt empowered to make his own decisions. It was that two-way conversation that made him feel more like the adult he is.

That’s all a mom can ask for when saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future.

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