12 Frequently Asked Questions About School Physicals

Summer has hardly begun for the kids, but for parents, planning ahead for the next school year is already well underway. That means it’s time to schedule your child’s back-to-school physical, making sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and feeling their best. In fact, some studies show that children are most successful in the classroom and on the field when they feel healthy.

Many parents wonder how they can keep their kids healthy and active, but they aren’t sure how to go about it. The answer: start by getting your child or children an annual physical. Check out these 12 frequently asked questions parents have about their child’s back-to-school physical.


1. How Often Does My Child Need to go to the Doctor?

A healthy child should get a physical at least once every two years after the age of five if they have no existing medical conditions. If a child has a chronic medical condition, like asthma, persistent infections, or allergies, they should be going to the doctor for a physical at least once a year.


2. Is There a Difference Between an Annual Physical and Sports Physical?

Yes, there is a difference between sports and annual physicals. The sports physical focuses on determining whether a child is safe to participate in a particular sport or physical activity. A sports physical is important because it can assist in determining if a child has health problems that may interfere with their sports participation.

In an annual physical, a doctor will check out your child’s overall health, often including things that are not related to sports. A doctor would be able to provide both types of exams during one appointment. 


3. Do Schools Require Physical Examinations for Students?

Depending on where the child is attending school, it may or may not be necessary for a child to have a physical examination. To participate in sports in the state of Iowa, a student must have a physical. In the state of Illinois, children must have a physical examination prior to entering kindergarten, sixth, and ninth grade. Certain vaccinations are required for children upon entering different grade levels. 


4. What Should I Expect During my Child’s Physical?

Several different things happen during a child’s appointment. The doctor will begin by checking the child’s height, weight and blood pressure. Once the physical exam begins, the doctor will check the heart and lungs, the spine for any curvature, and depending on your child’s age, signs of puberty. If it is time for an immunization update, the immunization can be provided during the appointment.


5. Are These Examinations Important?

Absolutely. It is a good way to check a child’s health. Much can change throughout a year’s time in a child’s life. Yearly examinations can help track a child’s height, weight, health and growth as well as protecting them against possible health problems.


6. What Type of Healthcare Providers can Perform the Exam?

Several different health care providers can perform a physical examination for children. A physician, physician’s assistant, or an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) are all able to perform a physical.


7. Do I Need to Prepare my Child for Their Physical?

Depending on the age of your child, you may need to have a conversation with them about what they can expect during the exam. If your child is getting a shot or immunization during their physical, wait to have the discussion with them so they do not worry or fear their appointment.


8. Will my Child Get Immunizations/Vaccines During Their Physical?

If your child is due for certain immunizations and vaccines, they can get them during the back-to-school physical. Some schools may require vaccinations to enter certain grades.


9. Should I Make a List of My Concerns?

If you have any concerns about your child’s emotional, mental or physical well-being, write down a list of questions to ask their primary care physician. On top of your concerns, ask your child if they have any questions they want to ask the doctor and write them down. If your child is old enough, have them write down and ask their questions.


10. Is There Anything I Need To Prepare For?

If your family medical history has changed, you have a new insurance provider or if your child is taking medication, you need to have this information ready to provide to the medical provider.


11. Can I Wait Until The End of Summer Since Sports Begin in the Fall?

Delaying the appointment could mean a struggle in getting an appointment time that is convenient. By scheduling the physical in the spring or early summer, you can avoid the “physical” rush. Some summer camps require physicals, so your child may need to get theirs in the spring.


12. How Can I Schedule a Visit?

Don’t wait before it’s too late. Beat the “physical” rush this summer by scheduling your child’s physical examination appointment today. Call your provider at one of the convenient Quad Cities locations. Do you need a provider to perform the physical? Find a doctor that works best for you!