Top Docs 2009: The Specialists
You need good medical care. How do you know who gives it? We asked the doctors who of their peers they’d trust enough to recommend to a loved one. Here are their picks.
(To download the complete list of 2009 Top Docs, go to page 6 and click on the link.)
Research assistance by Jonathan Gainey
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Adolescent Medicine | Lisa Barkley, MD
It takes a specialist—and a special person—to understand the physical and mental changes that occur during adolescence. You might say that Dr. Lisa Barkley, a specialist in Christiana Care’s Adolescent Medicine department and medical director at Delaware State University, starts where pediatricians leave off.
Adolescent medicine specialists focus on the physical, psychological, social, and sexual development of adolescents and young adults. Barkley focuses on teens, helping them transition to adulthood. The teen years involve more physical and mental changes than any other stage of life except the first year. “Making a successful transition into adulthood is crucial to future adult health and greatly influences the workforce and childbearing years,” Barkley says. “It’s rewarding to know that your work can positively impact the trajectory of a young person’s life.”
During the first visit, Barkley does a physical exam after creating a comprehensive patient history. “I then have an age-appropriate discussion of the problem and come up with a collaborative action plan to address the issue, utilizing positive support people for the teen,” she says.
The key to her success is special interviewing techniques that make teens feel comfortable and help to develop trust. “In our very technical society, few people really talk to them,” Barkley says. “I find that kids enjoy talking to an adult who cares and gives them accurate information on how to be healthy. But I’m also mindful of not being judgmental.”
Barkley calls teenagers “one of the most underserved and misunderstood populations in the country.” Between 1995 and 2005, suicide was the second leading cause of death for youths and young adults in Delaware, according to the Delaware Health Statistics Center. Risk factors included depression or other mental illness, substance abuse, stressful life events or losses, and access to lethal weapons. But Barkley cites a recent study by the National Institute of Health that says that after years of significant rises in teen suicide, as well as homicide, motor vehicle deaths and STDs, rates have started to level off.
“I am continually amazed by the complexity and enormity of the problems that many of our young people face across all economic and racial boundaries,” Barkley says. She hopes more research into brain development will lead to better support systems for teens.
Teens’ biggest hurdles Relationship problems, depression, eating disorders and menstrual disorders. “Sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse are particularly significant problems.”
Advice to parents “First, encourage teens to stay involved in addressing the problem, even when they object to your input. Second, talk to your doctor about the problem so that medical issues can be uncovered, if present, and you can get referrals for more intensive help.”
Page 3: Obstetrics-Gynecology | Vincent B. Kileen, MD