Pediatric Annals

Guest Editorial Free

High-Yield Adolescent Topics for the Primary Care Pediatrician

Lolita Alcocer Alkureishi, MD; Sabrina Fernandez, MD

Much has changed since 2019 when our vision for this issue of Pediatric Annals first emerged, but we have realized over the course of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that the article topics remain urgent. This issue will focus on key ambulatory concerns facing adolescents. Topics such as nonsuicidal self-injury, the changing landscape of marijuana products, and gender identity are as relevant as ever, and we want them to serve as an introduction to the importance of mindfulness practices for adolescents.

These issues are especially relevant today, as all of our lives have experienced massive and unwanted change. Old and comforting routines have been upheaved, replaced by uncertainty and the looming unknown. School and work, tremendously important arenas for socialization and interaction, are now largely conducted remotely and even when held in person, they are constricted by social distancing requirements. The resultant stress, frustration, and sadness due to the COVID-19 pandemic is palpable among us all, regardless of age; however, teenagers may have a particularly difficult time recognizing, expressing, and coping with these emotions.

As such, we present a collection of practical articles to help the busy clinician address these topics in primary care. The first article, “Cannabinoids and the Adolescent Patient: A Pragmatic Guide for Pediatric Practitioners,” by Drs. Gregg Joseph Montalto, Elizabeth G. Cius, and Maria H. Rahmandar focuses on the changing and expanding world of cannabinoids. In this stressful pandemic, many patients have reported increased substance abuse, and this article provides primary care physicians with the latest trends, screening tools, and treatment strategies.

The second article, “Affirming Pediatric Care for Transgender and Gender Expansive Youth,” by Drs. Ilana Sherer and Madeleine Hanks addresses the importance of gender-affirming care, and how pediatric professionals can promote trust among our gender diverse patients by providing guidance and support that is inclusive and welcoming to all. Resisting the binary default, this article gives some important tips to pediatricians on how to change their clinical environment to welcome gender creative youth, how to ask about gender identity, and how to counsel patients on the various therapeutic options.

The next article, “Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Youth: A Primer for Pediatricians” by Drs. Shireen F. Cama and Stephanie Fosbenner explores nonsuicidal self-injury such as cutting, a practice that is unsettling to parents and providers, but common among teenagers. This article offers guidance on how to address this behavior in a primary care setting.

The final article, “Mindfulness in Pediatrics: Practices to Improve Clinician and Patient Mental Health and Enhance Well-Being,” by Drs. Sara Ahola Kohut and Amy Saltzman recognizes the various stresses that adolescents face today; the article provides practical resources and guidance for teenagers, their families, and even for pediatric primary providers.

We hope these articles are not only relevant to your daily practice, but that they provide pediatricians with practical knowledge and tools to help address common issues faced by our young patients. We thank all of our contributors for their time and expertise and may you all be safe and well.


Lolita Alcocer Alkureishi, MD
Sabrina Fernandez, MD

About the Guest Editors

Lolita Alcocer Alkureishi, MD, earned her medical degree and completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is an Associate Professor in Academic Pediatrics at the University of Chicago, and the Clerkship Director for the Pritzker School of Medicine. Her outpatient practice is at Friend Health, a federally qualified health clinic that provides care to mostly ethnic and racial minorities in underserved communities in Chicago.

In addition to caring for children of all ages, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters, making art and craft projects, and exploring nature.

Address correspondence to Lolita Alcocer Alkureishi, MD, via email at

Sabrina Fernandez, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF. She earned her medical degree at the University of California, Davis and finished her residency and chief residency at UCSF. She provides routine primary care, health maintenance, and sick visits for children of all ages. Her interests include immunizations, and she serves on the board of the San Francisco Immunization Coalition. She is also interested in medical education and is the Co-Director for Career Launch and Development for the Department of Pediatrics, UCSF.

She is the proud mother of two young children and enjoys going on walks, riding scooters, and reading books with them.

Address correspondence to Sabrina Fernandez, MD, via email at

Disclosure: The authors have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.


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