Tips for visiting a clinic!
It doesn’t matter what age you are, you have a right to high-quality sexual and reproductive health care.
2 Ways to Find a Clinic Near You
TeenSource makes it easy to find a clinic near you! You can check out our clinic finder online or text the word “clinic” and your zip code to The Hookup at 877877 to find a list of clinics closest to you! While you are at it, you can subscribe to the Hookup by texting the word “Hookup” to 877877 for weekly health and relationship information straight to your phone!
Once you find the clinics near you, it can still seem scary to make an appointment and visit the clinic so check out our helpful tips!
Remember: you can visit a clinic by yourself, without a parent or other adult for confidential, non-judgmental health services. But if you have a parent, family member or other trusted adult in your life who can help, that’s great! Talk to them about making an appointment.
1. Make a Plan
- Did you know you have the right to take time off from school for confidential health care appointments without a parent’s permission? Talk with your school counselor or office person ahead of time to learn how to leave campus on your own.
- After you find a clinic, figure out how you will get there. Will you walk, call a Lyft or Uber, take a bus, drive, or have someone you trust give you a ride? Keep transportation in mind when you’re making your appointment.
- Check to see if a clinic in your area has a teen drop-in time! Teen drop-in clinics can be a great opportunity to get services without having to make an appointment. You can find out on the clinic’s website or by calling to ask about drop-in hours.
- When you call the clinic to make an appointment or make the appointment online, let them know if you are a new patient. Be open with the person on the phone about why you need an appointment. It’s their job to help you make the right type of appointment.
2. Be Prepared
- When you make your appointment, make sure to write down the date and time. Put the information somewhere to help you remember -- like in a planner or your phone’s calendar. If you need to keep your appointment private, you can put it down as something like “go to the gym,” as long as you remember what it really means.
- Show up early for your first appointment so you have time to do paperwork.
- Bring a photo ID, your social security number, and any insurance information if you have them. If you don’t have any of these, don’t worry! You still have a right to FREE and CONFIDENTIAL health care through programs like Medi-Cal or Family PACT, no matter what.
3. Be Pro-active
- Check in at the front desk when you get to the clinic. If you’re concerned about how much things will cost or if your visit will be private, ask the office person about a confidential health care program you can use. There are programs in California that will help you if you can’t afford the service or if you are concerned about your information staying confidential from your parents or family.
- If you don’t want to use your address to receive mail, you can give the office staff the address of someone you trust. If you are worried about the clinic calling your phone, ask the office staff to use a code name when they contact you instead of saying that the clinic is calling. Make sure you let the person taking your information know about any special privacy concerns you have.
- Be respectful to staff and know that they should always be respectful to you. Clinic staff should ask about and respect your pronouns, gender identity, and chosen name. Health care staff should never put you down, judge you, or force you to do anything that you do not want to do. If any of these things happen to you, you can make a report by speaking with the clinic manager and/or go to another clinic.
- Be honest with your health care provider, and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. You get to be the boss of your own health!
- While you are at the clinic, be sure to pick up free condoms, lube, and emergency contraceptive before you need them.
Visiting a clinic or health center may seem scary your first time but remember, you have a right to own your health! Making a plan and being prepared will help make the experience easier. And remember, you can always ask questions! If you don’t want to visit a clinic just yet, that’s ok. You can always get free condoms without visiting a clinic.