When to Schedule a Physical Exam

When to Schedule a Physical Exam

Parents schedule checkups for their children for various reasons. It may be time for routine vaccinations. There may be a particular physical or behavioral issue of concern. It may be a requirement for participation in sports or camp. Whatever the reason for the appointment, all checkup visits have same goal: to evaluate (your child's health) and educate (parent and child) for optimal growth and development.

Before the Exam

Before your checkup, make a list of any concerns you want to discuss with the provider. Gather pertinent records (vaccine records, information from other physicians), any camp or sports forms that need to be signed, and names and dosages of current medications. For infants 2-18 months, you'll want to give a dose of Tylenol before the visit (just assume they'll be getting vaccines, it's unusual for this age group not to, and if you happen to give one unnecessary dose of Tylenol it won't hurt your baby). See the dosing guidelines handout. We also encourage you to get online and read up on vaccines. Some helpful web links are provided on this site.

During the the Exam

All checkups start with vital signs: weight, height, head circumference for babies, blood pressure for children 3 and up, and heart rates before and after exercise for sports physicals. Children ages 3 and up will need to provide a urine specimen. Kindergarten physicals also include hearing and vision screens.

The nurse will then ask some questions concerning your child's development, nutrition, any recent illnesses, or concerns you would like the provider to address.

The provider will evaluate your child's growth, development, and immunization status. It is very important that you provide us with an up-to-date copy of your child's vaccines. Then all children receive a head-to-toe examination (this includes teens for sports and camp).

We allow our teen patients to decide whether or not they would like their parent to remain in the room for the exam. Helpful hint: if your child is embarrassed to be examined in their underwear, have them wear a bathing suit instead. Afterwards, we can discuss any concerns you may have about your child. Again, for teens, we request some time for the patient to have the opportunity to discuss any issues alone with the physician that they may not want to discuss in front of their parent. Remember, many of the things teens ask us about in private are NOT the world-changing issues you may be worried about.

NOTE: For parents who have extensive concerns about their child's behavior or school problems, we suggest a "parent conference". We schedule these immediately before lunch so we can have extra time to discuss these complicated issues.

Vaccines and Tests

After the provider is finished, the nurse will return to perform vaccines and blood work. Most infants will receive vaccines at 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months. Children typically receive vaccines at ages 4 or 5, then again at age 11 or 12. See our immunization schedule for more details. See our well child schedule for tests performed at physicals.

Camp & Sports Forms

Please remember to bring your pre-participation forms for sports or camp, so we can fill these out during your visit. Make sure to complete the "medical history" section prior to the checkup (it MUST be complete before the physician can sign off on the form). For school sports in Georgia, you can download and print the Georgia Sports Participation Form.

After the the Exam

For infants and toddlers receiving vaccines, we recommend giving Tylenol every 4-6 hours for the 24 hours following the injections. The most common vaccine side effects are fever (usually low grade), crankiness, sleepiness, minor swelling at the injection site. Your nurse and physician can discuss vaccines with you in more detail during your visit.

Checkups should be fun (at most ages) and informative, not just a requirement to be completed. Please feel free to ask ANY questions regarding your child. We're here to help you and your child.


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