To implement this recommendation, regulatory bodies would need to use national meetings of specialists and educators/scholars within relevant disciplines to define competencies in adolescent health. They would also have to require professionals who serve adolescents in health care settings to complete a minimum amount of education in basic areas of adolescent development, health issues unique to this life stage, and a life course framework that encourages providers to focus on helping their adolescent patients develop healthful habits that can be carried forward into their adult lives. Finally, agencies that fund training programs would have to adhere to the requirements of the regulatory bodies (i.e., with regard to accreditation, licensure, and certification, and to maintenance of licensure or certification where appropriate), and content on adolescent health would have to be mandatory in all relevant training programs.
Recommendation 7: Public and private funders should provide targeted financial support to expand and sustain interdisciplinary training programs in adolescent health. Such programs should strive to prepare specialists, scholars, and educators in all relevant health disciplines to work with both the general adolescent population and selected groups that require special and/or more intense services.
To effect this recommendation, public and private funders would need to ensure that professionals who serve adolescents in health care settings are trained in how to relate to adolescents and gain their trust and cooperation; how to develop strong provider–patient relationships; and how to identify early signs of risky and unhealthful behavior that may require further assessment, intervention, or referral. Also essential to the training of these professionals is knowing how to work with more vulnerable adolescents, such as those who are in the foster care system; homeless; in families that have recently immigrated to the United States; lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; or in the juvenile justice system. Important as well is to increase the number of Leadership Education in Adolescent Health programs that train health professionals in adolescent medicine, psychology, nursing, social work, and nutrition, and to enhance the program by adding dentistry.
Recommendation 8: Federal and state policy makers should develop strategies to ensure that all adolescents have comprehensive, continuous health insurance coverage.