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Adolescent medicine in the USA: a perspective on progress and lessons learnt
  1. Renée R Jenkins
  1. Correspondence to Professor Renée R Jenkins, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Howard University College of Medicine, 1840 Seventh Street N.W., HURB-1, Room 214, Washington, DC 20001, USA; rjenkins{at}howard.edu

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Introduction

Increasing attention to adolescent health globally is evidenced by the UNICEF and WHO publications on the state of the world's adolescents and the competencies required to provide optimal care to this population.1 ,2 Preparing and sustaining a competent workforce requires time and resources in a highly competitive environment. But the timing of the numerical surge of the youth population and their potential for positive global change begs for investing in youth as a priority. The history of educating the paediatric workforce in the USA about adolescent health offers a chance to examine workforce preparation and its strengths and gaps related to outcomes. This paper will describe the historical highlights in the evolution of adolescent health/medicine and the education of paediatricians and then examine recent trends in health indicators for adolescents. Although young adults are considered within the target population for adolescent medicine, health indicator data in the USA are often stratified by 10–14 years, 15–19 years and 20–24 years. As a result, one has to define the age group described in each measure rather than assume the range. This paper is specifically focused on paediatrics and features data on 15-year-olds to 19-year-olds. This paper is based on a presentation given at the 7th Europaediatrics Congress. Interventions to improve adolescent health in the USA are occurring at multiple tiers, national, state, community, family and individual levels in response to challenges to health that are heavily influenced by social determinants. Other physicians and disciplines complete the multidisciplinary teams that care for adolescents, but their training and roles are beyond the scope of this document.

History of adolescent medicine and paediatric requirements in the USA

The education of the paediatric workforce caring for adolescents has evolved in two tracts, educating general paediatricians and paediatric specialists to care for adolescents and second, the advancement of the specialty of adolescent medicine with a formal fellowship training. …

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