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If you have a child in school, chances are you're required to get them routine school physicals. Have you ever wondered why, though? How do school physicals differ from other checkups with your child's pediatrician? For starters, many schools require routine school physicals because your child grows and changes a lot from year to year. Routine checkups are a good way to track your child's health during that time. Additionally, routine checkups increase your likelihood of learning about potential health conditions your child may have before the problems get out of control. 

Many schools also require routine school physicals to ensure your child is up to date on all their vaccines. This helps ensure they're protected against a variety of illnesses and diseases and helps protect their fellow classmates, friends, teachers, and others in your community. 

Routine School Physical

How Do School Physicals Differ from Other Types of Doctor Visits?

School physicals are a form of preventative care. During a routine school physical, your child's pediatrician will monitor his or her growth and development to ensure they're growing as they should. During these exams, your child's doctor will also determine if they're due for any vaccinations. Additionally, your child's doctor may discuss certain topics regarding your child's sleep, nutrition, medical history, as well as any illnesses currently going around the school or community. Your child's doctor will also assess whether they're hitting important developmental milestones. 

These physicals differ from other types of doctor visits because unlike other visits, you're not taking your child to their pediatrician over an illness or other medical concern. During sick visits, the goal of the appointment is to diagnose and treat an illness and alleviate symptoms. During routine visits like school physicals, the goal is to track development and ensure your child is growing and developing right on schedule. 

When Should You Schedule a Routine School Physical?

Typically, the best time to schedule a routine school physical is prior to the start of your child's next school year. For example, many parents choose to schedule their child's physical sometime during the spring or summer.

Preparing Your Child for Their Physical

If a trip to the doctor makes your child anxious or apprehensive, take time to discuss what will take place. Answer any questions your child may have and discuss how their doctor will check their ears, eyes, nose, and weight. If your child is due for any immunizations, make sure to discuss those as well. By being open and upfront about the procedure, your child may feel a bit more comfortable when it's time for their physical. 

In addition to preparing your child for their physical, there are a few things you should prepare as well. Prior to your child's physical, make sure you have the following information ready for the doctor:

  • Changes in your family’s medical history
  • Changes in your child’s health since the last doctor visit
  • List of medications your child currently takes (including OTC)
  • Insurance information

Staying up to date on your child's health is an important part of keeping them healthy and preventing serious medical conditions. If your child is due for a physical, contact their pediatrician and schedule an appointment.

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