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Back-To-School Physicals Help Kids Get a Smart Start

Posted on Jul 11, 2017

Preparing to go back to school can be a very busy time for families and students of all ages. Whether your child is starting school for the first time or entering their senior year, the experts at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital want your student to have a safe and smart start to the new school year.

Making sure your child starts the year off right means more than buying sharpened pencils and notebook paper. As you check off items on your family’s to-do list this summer, don’t forget to schedule a back-to-school physical.

“Parents always think of back-to-school physicals as the time for their child to get their shots,  but there are really more things that we talk about,” says Rachel Dawkins, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “At a back-to-school physical we are checking the child head to toe.”

Children and teens of all ages should see a health care professional every year for a routine physical. This comprehensive exam is typically completed in one visit and centers on important topics such as:

  • Growth
  • Development
  • Learning
  • Home life
  • Updating immunizations
  • Answering parent questions 

Just by completing a basic screening, your child’s pediatrician can detect if they need lab work, an appointment with a specialist, or a specific therapy such as speech therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy. Connecting families with these services before school starts is an important step in making sure that child can go to school ready to learn and prepared to do their best.

Back-to-school physicals aren’t just for young children. Teens should have a yearly physical, too. As they get older, teens may start to develop their own questions or concerns about their health. Allowing them to have these questions answered from a reliable source is an important step in helping them become healthy adults.

If your child is a student athlete, chances are their school requires a sports physical to be completed before they can participate. A sports physical is also a comprehensive physical exam, but with a focus on issues related to a child’s ability to play and be active. These topics generally include:

  • Family history, such as family history of sudden cardiac death
  • Sports related injuries, including concussions
  • A neurological exam
  • A joint exam 

To save your family time, many physician offices will allow you to schedule a sports physical and a back-to-school physical for the same appointment. The best time to schedule a back-to-school or sports physical is early in the summer so you have time to make any other appointments, such as a trip to the eye doctor, well before school begins.  Another good time for a yearly physical is near your child’s birthday, since it serves as an easy reminder that it is time for check-up, however it is never too late to schedule one.

Located on the main St. Petersburg campus, the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine clinic is committed to helping kids enjoy healthy, happy lives. That’s why we are dedicated to delivering comprehensive care that is easily accessible and highly coordinated. In addition to the care provided in clinic, our Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine practice also has access to pediatric specialists and subspecialists throughout the outpatient care center.

To request an appointment, please call 727-767-8917.

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