Paul G. Dyment
Head, Section of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
The age limits of adolescence are usually defined as being from 13 to 20 years. This second decade of life is so distinct from either childhood or adulthood in its emotional, social, and physical aspects that physicians have created the new specialty of adolescent medicine. These new practitioners are generally family physicians, internists, or pediatricians who have developed an interest in the needs of this age group, and who devote part of their practice to them. In addition, there are now increasing numbers of physicians who have completed a formal fellowship in adolescent medicine, and are practicing their specialty on a full-time basis.
Clinics for teenagers were pioneered in 1951 at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston. They are now functioning in more than 70 hospitals, and 19 institutions are offering fellowships n i this new field. The Cleveland Clinic Hospital has a teenage ward where the supportive milieu includes a lounge just for adolescents, with rock posters on the wall, a jukebox with rock and country music, a full-time youth activities worker, and most importantly, other adolescents undergoing similar emotional stresses engendered by the anxieties of hospitalization.
Physicians with a special interest in the medical problems of this age group are organized into the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Their annual meetings include a day devoted to research papers. As enthusiasm for the development of “Free Clinics” to care for the medical and emotional needs of drug-abusing, alienated youth has abated, it has become clear that more normal, less alienated . . .