The adolescent years can be a turbulent time with many changes. Having a health care provider that is a partner in navigating the health and social landscape as teens move into adulthood can be invaluable.
This is where an adolescent specialist comes in to play. These providers have extra training for meeting the unique needs and concerns of teenagers. At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, we are training the next generation of pediatricians–and introducing them to the idea of specializing in adolescents.
Residents in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s pediatric residency program get to spend time in many areas of the hospital. This includes a six-week rotation in the Adolescent and Young Adult Specialty Clinic
, learning about the needs of this population under clinic director Jasmine Reese, M.D.
Reese is one of only a handful of physicians in Florida specializing in the care of adolescents and young adults. Additional training helps Reese bridge the gap between a pediatrician and an adult provider.
While Reese is providing care and education for the patient family, she is also teaching the residents in that portion of their rotation how to care for patients in the 12-21 age range. This portion of their residency is not only about the medical aspect but also how to be a resource for families and identify the issues that matter to teens.
Every so often, residents such as Brittany Badal, M.D., turn this short rotation into their career path. Badal graduated from the residency program in June 2018 and is currently pursuing a fellowship in adolescent medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Medical school started as a way to combine her interest in biology with a passion for helping others. During her time at the University of Louisville, Badal served as a mentor and volunteer at a local school providing educational, health and support needs for teenage parents and their children—a first step toward a future specialty.
“I knew I wanted to be in a field where I could establish relationships with my patients,” Badal explains. “One of my favorite aspects of working with adolescents and young adults is being able to connect with them as they are becoming aware of their own health needs and educating them on how to lead a healthy life.”
The residency program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s encourages the up-and-coming providers to think “Why this patient?” and “Why now?” to fully combine clinical medicine and the patient experience. It’s a central point in understanding how social factors affect health needs.
Badal is using this way of thinking to help guide her patients through a pivotal transition period. Adolescent medicine isn’t just addressing important topics like chronic disease management, nutritional disorders and reproductive health issues, it’s also about helping patients learn to navigate the health care experience while they still have the support of their caregivers.
Though her time at Johns Hopkins All Children’s has ended, the lessons learned will continue on as a guide, and even across time zones the bonds of mentorship between Badal and Reese remain strong.
“Dr. Reese is s a wonderful mentor,” Badal says, “and I am excited to continue the mentoring I’ve received as a pediatric resident moving forward into fellowship.”