Have you ever wondered why your child needs an annual
physical? A lot can change in your child’s health in a year’s time. During a
physical exam, your child’s provider will monitor your child’s growth, health
and development and safeguard against any potential physical problems that
If a school physical isn’t on the top of your child’s
back-to-school list, it really should be. It is an important step in making
sure your child is ready for all the adventures that await them in the new
Who Should Have a
All kids of school
age should receive a physical exam on an annual basis. While most parents stay
up-to-date on their children’s well-child visits as babies, it is easy to get
out of the routine of taking kids to the doctor once those frequent well-child check-ups
end. “There really shouldn’t be a break in a child’s annual visits to their
provider. To ensure their overall health, it is recommended that children of
all ages—whether they are in school or not—continue to see their provider on an
annual basis,” says Laura Danis, DO, of UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at
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 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 is a top priority for providers and
school administrators. Keep your child healthy by knowing your state’s school vaccination
What is the Best Time
of Year to Schedule My Child’s Physical?
The ideal time to schedule your child’s annual physical is
before the start of the school year, either in the spring or summer. Though it
varies, documentation may be required for your child to begin the new school
year, in addition to sports and activities. And, even if documentation isn’t
required, it is always a good idea to stay up-to-date on your child’s current
health status to make sure they stay healthy.
What Should We Bring
to the Appointment?
Make the most of your child’s appointment by preparing
information ahead of time. Key pieces of information to bring include:
Changes in family medical history
Change in the child’s health since the last
List of any over-the-counter or prescription
medications your child is taking
Your family insurance card
How Can I Prepare My
Child for Their Appointment?
Talk to your child ahead of time to prepare them for their
appointment. Make sure they have a good understanding of what will take place
during the exam.
“During the physical part of the exam, a provider will
record the child’s weight and height, take blood pressure, test vision, check
the heart, lungs, abdomen, nose and throat and evaluate a child’s joints and
posture,” adds Danis. “While most portions of an exam are the same for boys and
girls, there are some differences—especially for children who have or are going
through puberty. We try to educate those patients on what physical and
emotional changes they may experience in the months ahead.”
In addition to medical history and physical examination, a
provider will also discuss the importance of a good diet, sleep regime and
safety including the importance of bike helmets and sunscreen.
Where Can We Find a
Provider for My Child?
It is very important to choose a provider that both you and
your child will be comfortable speaking with and trust. There are a number of family medicine
providers to choose from close to home. Schedule an appointment with a
primary care provider today and make sure your child is ready for the new