Teens and Their Doctors
The Story of the Development of Adolescent Medicine
Henry Berman, MD & Hannah Dashefsky, BSN, RN
October 2017, ISBN 978-0-88135-392-1, $25.95

Teens and Their Doctors

Teens and Their Doctors: The Story of the Development of Adolescent Medicine, by Henry Berman, MD, and Hannah Dashefsky, BSN, RN, traces the development of the field from the first program, opened by Ros Gallagher at Boston Children’s Hospital, in 1951, to the creation of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), in 1968.

The book describes the growth of the specialty in those two decades, including how it was influenced by changes in society, and how practitioners responded to social change with approaches created to care for alienated youth, such as free clinics, mobile medical vans, and teen hotlines. The core of the book is composed of interviews with more than eighty specialists in adolescent medicine, all of whom were trained by the pioneers of the field.

It also tackles the question asked of specialists in adolescent medicine: “What is adolescent medicine, anyway?” No simple answer is proposed, but the role these physicians play in caring for teens, and the characteristics of those who choose the field, are dramatized by scores of stories—from the humorous, to the poignant, to the heart-breaking. David Bennett, a physician who trained in the US and then returned to his native country to establish the first hospital-based adolescent medical unit in Australia in 1977, wrote a Forward to the book that says, in part,

“This book tells the story of the inaugural efforts to create the specialty of adolescent medicine in a way that will engage the interest of thoughtful readers everywhere, both within and beyond the health and medical professions. Not only has Henry Berman brought to life the characters involved in launching our field – and their protégés – but he has also vividly outlined the attitudes, mores and happenings of those early years in an analysis that is both rich and illuminating.

“This is a seminal work, a unique and timely contribution to our understanding of the origins and underpinnings of our field, crafted with intelligence and love. It feels like a gift to the people who have devoted themselves to the cause.”

Senior author: Henry Berman, MD, FAAP, FSAHM
A practitioner of adolescent medicine since 1971
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine
Division of Adolescent Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital


Teens and their Doctors is a masterful collection of observations, reflections, and perspectives, all framed in the context of the 1950s and 1960s with more women beginning to enter medical careers, free clinics established in major cities, and an appreciation for confidentiality in the adolescent patient-doctor visit. This book will be of interest not only to all adolescent medicine specialists but also to pediatricians, internists, and family medicine physicians, multidisciplinary teams, students of the history of medicine, particularly those who have a different perspective on the social movements of the 1950s and 1960s, and those who were once an adolescent! Jean Emans, MD, FSAHM This is a seminal work, a unique and timely contribution to our understanding of the origins and underpinnings of our field, crafted with intelligence and love. It feels like a gift to the people who have devoted themselves to the cause. David Bennett, AO FRACP FSAHM First-person accounts from the physicians who developed the field of adolescent medicine give Teens and Their Doctors an immediate appeal. In addition, Berman and Dashefsky shape a definition of adolescence that informs the relationship between teens and their doctors. Teens rebel while they seek a worldview of their own. Thus, listening becomes the key to treatment. The universal implications of this theme will interest parents, teachers, doctors, and any adult with a memory. Alan Bernstein, Emeritus Professor of History The book is the quintessential approach to writing the history of Adolescent Medicine – thoughtful interviews with a structured approach that brought out the best histories and future hopes of those involved.  Through reading it, you could feel the characteristics of an adolescent medicine physician at their core. Jeff Sperring, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Seattle Children's Hospital

Table of Contents

Foreword  xi Preface     xiii Introduction                xvii Chapter One What is Adolescent Medicine Anyway?               1 Chapter Two How the Field Began             31 Chapter Three Early Leaders         71 Chapter Four Adolescent Medicine Outside of the United States            121 Chapter Five Adolescence and Society 1951–1968 141 Chapter Six “1968: The Year That Rocked the World”          169 Chapter Seven Overcoming Challenges       201 Chapter Eight Learning about Adolescence                 217 Chapter Nine Is Adolescent Medicine Truly a Medical Specialty?          241 Acknowledgments       261 Guide to Cast of Characters         263 Academic information for U.S. faculty interviewed         285 Notes         293 Bibliography               305 Index         307 About the authors        325