Back to School – Back to the Doctor

Most kids (and parents) are eager to get back to school and start fall sports. They get excited about shopping for new clothes and school supplies. But preparing for the new school year is about more than just new clothes and gear. Your child also needs a well-child exam to ensure a successful year ahead! Starting at the beginning of preschool through the final days of high school, make sure your child’s yearly wellness exam is at the top of the back-to-school checklist.

Is a Yearly Physical Exam Really Necessary?

To put it simply, the answer is yes! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an annual checkup for children from age two to 18. Even if your child does not require a pre-participation exam for school sports and activities, many schools will ask for a complete health assessment by a certified health care professional to ensure your child is in good health for the coming year. Be sure to touch base with your child’s school district and coaches for specific physical exam requirements prior to attending the appointment.

How Should I Prepare for My Child’s Exam?

Knowing your family’s medical history (especially heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cancer) is one of the most important ways to prepare for your child’s exam. Bring a list of any current prescription and over-the-counter medications your child takes, as well as a list of any questions and concerns about your child’s health or wellness to discuss with your primary care provider. 

What Should I Expect During My Child’s Exam?

During a back-to-school exam, your child will receive a head-to-toe checkup to ensure he or she is healthy, as well as address and treat any health problems that may be present. Most comprehensive checkups will include of the following:

  • Review medical records (child and child’s family) to make sure nothing has changed.
  • Review immunization records to make sure your child is up-to-date.
  • Measure height and weight to check that your child is developmentally on track for his/her age and gender.
  • Screen vision and hearing to make sure your child has the appropriate aids.
  • Take urine sample to ensure your child doesn’t have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Take blood sample to check that your child’s liver, kidneys and other organs are functioning properly.
  • Perform a physical exam.
  • Discuss safety issues to make sure your child is practicing physical safety, Internet safety and stranger safety.
  • Provide guidance on proper nutrition, sleep and exercise for your child.

What Should I Ask my Child’s Doctor?

Once the physical exam is completed, take the opportunity to discuss important health and wellness issues regarding your child. 

  • Healthy behaviors and eating habits. Have an adult conversation about how to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  
  • Talk about your child’s school experience. Focus on the positives as you discuss your child’s experiences first, then troubleshoot any issues. Your child will value the praise and benefit from the doctor’s network of resources and referrals if necessary.
  • Growth and development. Ask what your child’s body mass index (BMI) means for his or her diet and activity level to help prevent obesity and weight problems in the future.

Set your child up for a successful school year by scheduling his or her back-to-school exam today. We’re here to ensure that this school year is a healthy one for the entire family!

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Health Trust Physicians Clinic | (515) 462-2950
Earlham Medical Clinic | (515) 758-2907

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