It is hard enough for many parents to get their 5-year-old to eat his Brussel sprouts, but getting a 14-year-old to take an interest in her health is a challenge that may require professional help.
There are many social and developmental changes that happen during adolescence that can have a major impact on a person's health for the rest of his life, and Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, a new internal medicine physician practicing at The Emory Clinic, has dedicated her professional career to meeting the unique needs of adolescent patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16 percent of 12-19 year-olds are overweight. The CDC also reports that 12 percent of 12-17 year-olds smoked cigarettes in the last month and 18 percent used alcohol.
"There are a lot of compelling data suggesting that adolescents are struggling with a variety of health issues," says Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber. "Those health issues are uniquely connected to the pressures of growing-up, and I have found it rewarding to help my patients address those issues."
"When a patient comes to see an adolescent medicine physician we see them as a fresh, new person," explains Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber. "We feel comfortable asking about school, sex, social pressures, smoking, diet, exercise, and drugs."
To care for adolescents, a physician must have excellent clinical skills as well as the ability to develop a trusting rapport with a young patient. "The most important part of adolescent medicine is listening," says Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber.
"We have to get a detailed medical history, pay careful attention to the physical exam, provide thoughtful consideration of diagnostic possibilities, and recommend treatment planning that involves the patient as a partner," she says.
After completing her training in internal medicine, Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber found that she wanted to learn more about the adolescent patient and spent additional time studying and taking care of patients in this age group.
She became board certified in adolescent medicine in 1997 and has been on the faculty in both internal medicine and pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She is also an active member of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM).
Call Emory Health Connection at 404-778-7777 or 1-800-75-EMORY (1-800-753-6679) to schedule an appointment.