Healthcare as an Adult

Well on Your Way

When you turn 18, you are legally an adult. This means you can legally make your own decisions. It also means you will move from youth to adult healthcare. You may wonder what adult healthcare is like, where you will go for care and who your healthcare providers will be.  Knowing what to expect and what's different about adult healthcare will help make the transition easier.

Who will be your new healthcare providers?

When you turn 18 you may need to see new healthcare providers. This will depend on your medical condition and who your current healthcare providers are.


If you have a specific health condition that needs ongoing care or treatment, you will likely see a specialist. If you have more than one health condition, you may see a different specialist for each condition.

If you’re not getting the care you expected from your new specialist, you can ask your family doctor to refer you to someone else.

Family doctor or nurse practitioner

You will see your family doctor or nurse practitioner for general health concerns. If you were seeing a pediatrician you will need to find a family doctor for:

  • Yearly check-ups
  • Injuries or illness
  • Looking after your general healthcare
  • Referrals to a new specialist
  • Prescription refills
  • Filling out medical forms
  • Questions or concerns about sexual health, mental health, lifestyle or healthy living

Where will you go for healthcare as an adult?

As a child and youth, many of your healthcare providers may have been in one place, building or site.  In adult healthcare, your healthcare providers will likely be at different locations. 
If you have a specific health condition, you may see a specialist at an adult specialty clinic (such as a diabetes, epilepsy, or cystic fibrosis clinic).

How is adult healthcare different?

There are many differences between pediatric and adult healthcare. Knowing about these differences will help make your transition easier. One major difference is that you will be more responsible for your healthcare.

As an adult, you can expect the following:

  • You can go to medical appointments on your own, unless you want to bring a friend or family member for support
  • You will book your own appointments
  • Your healthcare provider will talk directly with you
  • You will manage your health condition, keep track of important health information, and fill your own prescriptions
  • You will be more involved in making decisions about your healthcare
  • You may see various ages and conditions in the waiting room
  • At your first visit, healthcare providers may ask questions to get to know you and your health history
  • After you turn 18, your parents can’t access your health information unless you say it’s okay

You and your family may be nervous about moving to adult care because you are leaving healthcare providers that you know and trust, and need to develop relationships with new healthcare providers. If you prepare for these changes, it will make your transition easier.

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