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Featured Model Teen Programs

The Adolescent Medicine Service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Washington, DC

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was the first military site in the country to establish a separate primary care program for adolescents and young adults. Recognizing the unique health needs of this population, the Adolescent Medicine Service at Walter Reed, in 2001, organized a comprehensive program that offers a broad array of preventive and chronic care, behavioral health, reproductive health, and other health education and support services that routinely emphasize psychosocial issues such as risk-taking, substance use, and healthy eating. Adolescent services are delivered in a separate space with motivational sayings on the walls, adolescent health information, and photography donated by teen patients. According to its director, Dr. Jeff Hutchinson, “We approach adolescents not as children or as internal medicine patients, but as the maturing and developing individuals they are.”

Approximately 2,000 adolescents and young adults from military families and those currently in the military receive care at this site, with the majority being under the age of 21. The interdisciplinary team that staffs the clinic consists of several adolescent medicine specialists, two part-time pediatricians, a nurse practitioner, and a social worker with an RN and two LPNs providing health education services to adolescents and their families. Using daily morning huddles and weekly service meetings, the team regularly discusses clinical and administrative issues. The Adolescent Medicine Service also offers a sports medicine clinic and coordinates closely with the innovative “Healthy Habits” clinic run by the endocrinology department to address the obesity epidemic. In addition, on the same floor, additional mental health professionals and pediatric specialty providers are available for referral and consultation support.

Walter Reed’s Adolescent Service has for the past three years used technology to improve self-care management. “Relay Health,” a secure messaging system, allows teens to communicate with their provider confidentially and allows providers to communicate reminders and sensitive information. In addition, providers use a one-way texting system for alerts and health education texts. Possible use of a closed Facebook page is under consideration, as well. Another unique feature of the Adolescent Center is its emphasis on family-centered care. Clinicians actively involve parents, educating them about adolescent health risk behaviors, helping them to set reasonable expectations for their teens, and facilitating more effective communication with one another.

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