Patience White ’62 helps health care systems improve the process of transitioning young adults from pediatric to adult health care
Dr. Patience White ’62 is a practicing pediatric and adult rheumatologist and professor emeritus of medicine and pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Patience is also co-director of “Got Transition,” a national resource center that works to improve the process of transitioning young adults from pediatric to adult health care. “There are an estimated 35 million young adults aged 18–25 in the US, approximately 28% of whom have chronic conditions. Many of them, along with their counterparts without chronic conditions, will need to move from a pediatric to an adult health care clinician. National surveys show that most parents, youth, and young adults are unprepared to manage their own health and health care, and data show that without transition support, many young adults have diminished health outcomes.”
Patience was drawn to the growing issue of pediatric-to-adult health care transition after observing that this move into the adult health care system was particularly tough on her young patients with special care needs and disabilities. Got Transition actively works to assist health care systems improve their health care transition practice processes and to equip youth, young adults and families with the resources they need. Dr. White says she's inspired by the way “just a little bit of support during this critical time can make a huge difference in the long-term outlook for these young people.”
Patience’s resume has a unique entry early on: during her first summer in college, she worked for the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky, an organization that provides care to rural, underserved populations and educates nurse-midwives. Patience recalls “traveling on horses through mountains to reach families in need.” This firsthand look at the disparities in care cemented her interest in systemic problems of access, going beyond the immediate needs of specific patients to the larger questions of gaps in the healthcare system.