It’s the time of year to get physicals

Have you ever wondered why your child needs an annual physical? It’s because a lot can change in a child’s or teen’s health within a year’s time. By scheduling an annual physical, you are able to monitor the growth, health and development of your child in addition to safeguarding against potential physical problems that could arise. Explore why an annual exam is beneficial for your child.

Annual physicals involve your child’s doctor looking at your child’s:

family history,

personal health during the past year,

basic eye exam,

development and growth,

vaccination history and

overall physical health.

An annual physical is classified as a preventive care exam. This means that the main focus is on overall growth and development, ensuring your child is reaching the appropriate milestones for his or her age. This is not a diagnostic appointment. While it is a good time to bring up concerns you or your child may have, the main focus of this visit is not to treat symptoms.

Why do schools require sports and back to school physicals each year?

Schools and sports teams use annual physicals as a way to protect their entire student population. Knowing that the students are up to date on vaccinations and generally healthy helps prevent outbreaks from occurring among the students.

Annual physicals also help ensure that all sports participants are physically ready for the season, helping prevent possible injuries.

Annual physical requirements vary depending on state and school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your child’s yearly exam ensures that 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 in your community is top priority for doctors and school administrators.

Are well-child visits, physical exams and sports exams the same type of visit?

Each of these annual exams are categorized as preventive care visits. Preventive care visits allow for your child to have a complete examination of his/her growth and development in order to prevent problems. These visits are important to keep children healthy and to focus on what is being done well in addition to changes that can improve your child’s wellness.

What is the difference between preventive care visits and sick visits?

Both types of visit have varying reasons for scheduling the appointment. The primary differences are:

Preventive care visits: In this visit your child will have an in-depth physical review regarding normal development, sleep, nutrition, safety and illnesses that are “going around.” This is a time for you to cover important topics regarding your child’s well-being and overall health. Special attention is focused on whether your child is meeting the normal development milestones.

Sick visits: This particular type of visit is when your child has become ill and is showing symptoms. Normally a brief appointment, the focus is on finding the solution to why your child is ill and how to treat his/her symptoms.

Where can I get my well-child physicals?

UnityPoint Clinic – Pediatrics is offering flexible scheduling for your child’s annual physicals. We are open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call UnityPoint Clinic – Pediatrics’ office at (515) 574-6855.

Also for your convenience, UnityPoint Clinic – Pediatrics will be holding monthly clinics at the Fort Dodge Middle School and Fort Dodge Senior High this year. The school clinics are designed to make it more convenient for children to be seen by a provider. It saves time in driving back and forth and pulling children away from the classroom. All are welcome; you do not need to be a UnityPoint Health patient to be seen at the school clinic. Parents are welcomed to attend; however arrangements can be made to see children by themselves at the school. Services provided include annual and sports physicals/vaccines and sick visits, or any other reason a child would be seen by their primary doctor. To make an appointment, call your school nurse or UnityPoint Clinic – Pediatrics’ office at (515) 574-6855.

Ensuring your child’s long-term health is our top priority at UnityPoint Clinic.

Julie Bass, RN, is affiliated with UnityPoint Clinic – Pediatrics where she is the clinic manager.