Adolescent Medicine

The Discipline

Adolescent medicine focuses on the physical, psychological, social, and sexual development of adolescents and young adults. Adolescent medicine involves understanding the unique medical and behavioral issues associated with this patient population, and may include preventive, acute, and chronic care of these individuals. 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.

Many internal medicine physicians who pursue additional training in adolescent medicine are primary care clinicians who wish to gain additional expertise in working with this specific group of patients.


Adolescent medicine training is an additional two years beyond initial residency training.

Certification in adolescent medicine is jointly administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Family Medicine, and the American Board of Pediatrics. Therefore, certification in adolescent medicine is available to physicians who have completed basic residency training in any of these specialties.

Training Positions

In the 2021-2022 academic year, there were 32 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited training programs in adolescent medicine with 95 trainees.

Major Professional Societies

  • American College of Physicians
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
  • International Association for Adolescent Health

See all the career pathways open to internal medicine doctors.

Back to the December 2021 issue of ACP IMpact