School Physicals: Why They are Necessary for Kids and Teens

What are Physicals For?

Have you ever wondered why your child needs an annual physical? A lot can change in a child’s or teen’s health within a year’s time. By scheduling an annual physical, you are able to monitor the growth, health and development of your child in addition to safeguarding against potential physical problems that could arise. Explore why an annual exam is beneficial for your child.

Why do Schools Require Back to School Physicals Each Year?

Annual physical requirements vary depending on state and school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your child’s yearly exam ensures that he or she is up-to-date on vaccines to protect against serious diseases. Safeguarding your child's health as well as the health of classmates, friends and others in your community is top priority for doctors and school administrators . Keep your child healthy by knowing your state's school vaccination requirements.

Are Well-Child Visits, Physical Exams and Sports Exams the Same Type of Visit?

Each of these annual exams are categorized as preventative care visits. Preventative care visits allow for your child to have a complete examination of his/her growth and development in order to prevent problems. These visits are important to keep children healthy and to focus on what is being done well in addition to changes that can improve your child's wellness.

What is the Difference Between Preventative Care Visits and Sick Visits?

Both types of visit have varying reasons for scheduling the appointment. The primary differences are:

  • Preventative care visit. In this visit your child will have an in-depth physical review regarding normal development, sleep, nutrition, safety and illnesses that are “going around.” This is a time for you to cover important topics regarding your child's well-being and overall health. Special attention is focused on whether your child is meeting the normal development milestones. 

  • Sick visits. This particular type of visit is when your child has become ill and is showing symptoms. Normally a brief appointment, the focus is on finding the solution to why your child is ill and how to treat his/her symptoms. 

What is the Best Time of Year to Schedule My Child’s Physical?

The ideal time to schedule an appointment for your child’s annual physical is before his or her next academic year - think spring and summer before the next school year. Though it varies, documentation will be required for your child to begin the academic year, in addition to sports and activities. Make sure your child is healthy and ready to begin his or her new adventure by scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician or doctor.

Don’t have a primary care provider yet? Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a family medicine doctor or pediatrician in your area and schedule your child’s pre-participation physical exam today.

How Can I Prepare My Child for His or Her Yearly Physical?

It is best to prepare your child for a yearly physical through a quick overview of what will take place. Discuss with them about what to expect, such as how the doctor will be checking their eyes, nose, ears and weight. In addition, explain which immunizations may be given at that particular appointment. This is an effective way for you and the child to minimize uncomfortable, unexpected procedures and set the tone for a calm environment.

How Do I Prepare for My Child’s Annual Physical?

There are various ways for parents to prepare for their child's annual physical. Important information to have ready before entering the doctors office include:

  • Changes in family medical history.
  • Changes in the child’s health since the last physical.
  • List of any over-the-counter medications the child is taking.
  • Your family insurance card.

Ensuring your child’s long-term health is our top priority at UnityPoint Clinic. Through annual physicals, you are not only protecting your child’s well-being, but also the health of those within your community. Schedule an appointment with his or her primary care provider today and guarantee that your child or teen is ready for the new school year.

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