Doctor’s note: The importance of back-to-school physicals

As summer break comes to an end and the school year begins, focus changes from camps, ball games, vacations, and other activities to the demands of school. In addition to ensuring our children have the appropriate school supplies and clothing for the upcoming year, this is a good time to assess if they are ready for the other challenges. If your child hasn’t had an annual primary care physician visit, it is not too late to schedule a visit!

These visits offer an opportunity to address the needs of our children. Immunizations for influenza, meningitis, cancers related to the human papilloma virus and other communicable diseases can be completed. This opportunity to prevent illness, expensive hospitalizations and the possibility of lifelong disabilities is an advantage today’s children have over past generations. 

For younger children these visits are an opportunity to address health or behavioral problems that may later complicate life. Has your child had difficulty keeping up with others in the classroom? Are they not able to sit in a chair long enough to complete tasks required for education? Does bed wetting or food aversions keep them from being able to interact with their friends in social situations outside of school?  Answers to learning difficulties, attention difficulties, behaviors that may impact relations with peers and other concerns can be addressed.

For older children and adolescents these visits can be an opportunity to learn about risky behaviors related to substance abuse, addictions, health habits or sexually transmitted diseases. Harmful habits can be addressed before they are started. A good relationship with a healthcare provider in a safe environment can augment parents as they try to guide children into a productive and fulfilling adulthood. 

As summer winds down, now is a great time to make sure the health and development needs for our children are being met. Schedule a visit with your children’s primary care physician now be ready to tackle the new school year.

Kent Haverkamp, M.D.

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