See Your Medical Provider Before Heading Back to School

Although most kids don’t want to think about it, school will soon be back in session. The back-to-school sales have already started and it’s also time now to take care of your children’s healthcare needs before classes begin. Two of the biggest medical “to dos” parents need to take care of before school include sports physicals and making sure their children’s immunizations are updated.

Summer is a great time to bring a child in for his or her annual well-child check-up. When they are babies, check-ups follow a pretty regular schedule tied to their immunizations. But as they get older, many children don’t always get in for a regular check-up and only come in when there’s an acute problem. It’s important for me to see your child when she’s healthy and not fighting some kind of bug – that way I can identify any underlying health problems. If I’m focused on your son’s sore, red throat I may not have time to talk with you about overall health issues, such as safety, getting enough exercise, good sleeping habits, and healthy eating. Seeing your child when he’s healthy also gives me something to measure against when he’s sick.

If your child plays a school sport, a physical is a must. Many times, people wait until the last minute to schedule a sports physical so the earlier you sign up, the shorter the wait. During a sports physical, I check weight, height, blood pressure and other vitals to make sure your child is healthy enough to play. I also use this opportunity to talk about good nutrition, which is essential when playing a sport. There’s also some sports specific information I may share, such as talking about the warning signs of concussion if your child plays football or soccer.

As students enter kindergarten, the school will want a complete immunization record (this also holds true if your child is starting a new school). Coming in for a well-child visit before school starts gives me a chance to make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations and do a quick vision and hearing check, too. If your child is behind on immunizations for some reason, he can then get the needed vaccines before school starts.

Building up a good relationship with your child’s medical provider is important and both the sports physical and well child visit are great opportunities to talk about any concerns you may have. I also ask children if they have any questions too – it’s important they can share any concerns they may have and start learning the importance of taking ownership of their health.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at scott.schuldes@thedacare.org.