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Subspecialty Careers: Highlights about Careers in Internal Medicine: Adolescent Medicine

The Discipline
Adolescent medicine focuses on the physical, psychological, social, and sexual development of adolescents and young adults. Multidisciplinary and comprehensive in approach, this specialty encompasses the full spectrum of acute, chronic, and preventive health care. Adolescent medicine evaluates medical and behavioral problems within the context of puberty and tailors management to the individual's developmental needs. Problems typically encountered include abnormalities in growth and development, vision and hearing disorders, learning disabilities, musculoskeletal problems (often sports related), allergies, acne, eating disorders, substance abuse, psychosocial adjustment problems, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and pregnancy, and sexual identity concerns. In addition, adolescent medicine emphasizes the management of chronic diseases that begin in childhood and continue into adulthood, such as diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Opportunities for physicians to practice exclusively in this discipline are relatively few but growing in the private sector and are generally found within academic medical centers or in the public health sector. Adolescent medicine is an important part of general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine.

Training
While most fellowship programs in adolescent medicine are clinically oriented, most fellowships do provide significant background in research, prevention, and education. Adolescent Medicine fellowships vary from one to three years in length. Candidates for fellowship programs must have completed an approved residency in internal medicine, pediatrics, family practice, or combined medicine-pediatrics.

Certification
The American Board of Internal Medicine ABIM and the American Board of Pediatrics have agreed to award certification in adolescent medicine on the basis of performance on an examination developed jointly by both Boards. The admission requirements are similar and the standard for certification by the two Boards is identical. The examination is offered in the fall of odd numbered years.

Training Positions
As of 2007, there were 26 training programs in Adolescent Medicine. Sixty-six percent of the trainees were female and 77% were US medical graduates. The Society of Adolescent Medicine annually publishes a list of available fellowships in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Practice
The practice and procedures performed in this specialty are very similar to those of a general internist; however, additional gynecological procedures such as colposcopy and IUD implantation may be performed.

Major Professional Societies

  • The Society for Adolescent Medicine

    1916 NW Copper Oaks Circle
    Blue Springs, MO 64015
    Phone: (816) 224-8010
    www.adolescenthealth.org/

Major Publications

Source: This information came from the American College of Physicians’ Subspecialty Brochure.

Back to August 2009 Issue of IMpact

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