From Adolescent to Adult: The Transition Process
One of the main reasons I decided to become a part of National Health Corps (NHC) was the opportunity to see my city (i.e. Jacksonville, FL) from a different perspective. My dream goal of becoming a Physician Assistant would not be complete without this ability to see patients and healthcare from a holistic view. My time at my host site does just that.
The patients at my host site, Jacksonville Health and Transition Services (JaxHATS) face a lot of adversity as they learn to adapt to an adult-based lifestyle. We serve a population of 13-23 young adults with a disability or special health care needs and many of them reside in underprivileged communities throughout Northeast Florida. Before starting my service, I imagined transition to adulthood as an exciting process. Having the freedom and independence to be your true self and make your own decisions. As I continue with my service, I have come to realize the road to adulthood poses a challenge amongst many of our patients. My role as a Patient Navigator is to ease this transition process and create a comfortable environment as they learn to navigate through life. I hold virtual education sessions addressing important topics of transition: medication management, appointment keeping, vocational rehabilitation for those who would like to hold a job, insurance planning, and so much more.
Through my responsibilities here at JaxHATS, I realized healthcare education was not the only important aspect of transition. Listening plays a huge role as well. In a recent experience, I listened to a patient as they dove into the struggles they experienced living with chronic back pain. The inability to stand up or sit for long periods of time posed a huge barrier for her. She explained how difficult it was for her to find a vocation as so many work environments require walking around or staying in one place for extensive periods of time. We spoke about her interests and how she can incorporate her love for the arts to her future career. This experience opened my eyes to the reality of transition, and how much our patients rely on our services and resources my host site provides.
As I continue my service term with JaxHATS I hope to utilize these skills and lessons to further make an impact. Transition may seem daunting or overwhelming, but I believe through conversation and continued discussion, I can continue to bring comfort to those who continue that path.