Melissa Kang is a medical practitioner who trained in general practice/family medicine but has worked exclusively with adolescents and young adults for the past 30 years. She works part-time as a senior medical officer in Youth Health, which is a public-sector community health service targeting homeless and at-risk young people (12 to 25 years). Her substantive employment is as an Associate Professor and Co-Head (Research) at the General Practice Clinical Schoolat Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney.
Kang’s program of research includes access to healthcare/health system navigation for young people, particularly for those who are marginalised and face major inequities of access. She has been very involved in access research translation for over 20 years in New South Wales (NSW), leading two major studies and informing Youth Health Policy for the state. Her other major area of interest is in adolescent sexuality and sexual and reproductive health. Her doctoral research involved a randomised controlled trial conducted entirely in cyberspace, evaluating the impact of online engagement with young people on chlamydia testing.
For 23 years, Kang was the medical consultant for a popular Australian teen girls’ magazine called Dolly. The Dolly Doctor section included a regular Q&A column and Kang responded to readers’ questions each month. The longevity of this ‘on-the-side job’ provided some of the richest insights into adolescent girls’ concerns about their bodies, health, and relationships. So much so that these have resulted in several publications in the academic literature and more recently as a series of books targeting adolescents (co-written with a popular Australian media personality and podcaster). The first of these books, Welcome to Your Period, has been translated into nine languages other than English so far.
Kang regularly provides education and training to medical students and trainee general practitioners in youth health consultation skills and sexuality/ sexual health. She has co-produced several clinical resources around youth consultation skills and was lead editor of an Australian textbook called Youth Health and Adolescent Medicine. She currently sits on several boards/committees including a national clinical advisory group for a youth digital mental health initiative (Reachout) and the STI Strategy and the HIV Strategy Implementation Committees for the Ministry of Health in NSW.
Kang has been a member of the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine since the late 1980s, a member of IAAH since the mid-90s and a member of the Australian Association for Adolescent Health in the 1990s and again since 2011 (AAAH became dormant for about a decade). She was President of AAAH from 2015 to 2020 and has co-convened the past four national Youth Health conferences.