Summer can be a great time to relax, enjoy the sun, and unwind a bit. You might be planning a vacation, or something as simple as a picnic with friends or family.
For kids, the most important part of the summer is…NO SCHOOL!
Since it’s a time without classes, homework, and after-school activities on the schedule, summer is the perfect opportunity to take your kids to the doctor for their annual checkup. This is also known as a well visit.
A yearly checkup for both preschool and school-age children can help lay the foundation for lifetime healthy habits.
These checkups, which are often available at no cost, can also:
- Give you time to talk to the doctor in more detail about your child’s health.
- Help you and your child stay on track with recommended vaccines and screenings.
- Get you and your child ready, for the school year, while helping you meet requirements related to your child’s health.
New School Requirement
The most important benefit of a yearly checkup for your child is keeping them healthy as they continue to grow.
Starting July 1, 2018, New York state will require you to take your child to a doctor, and submit documentation of that visit within 30 days from when your child starts school, if:
- Your child is entering a school district for the first time.
- Your child is entering Pre-K, kindergarten, first, third, fifth, seventh, ninth, or eleventh grades.
This checkup must be completed by a licensed physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner in New York state. A certificate that says your child has been seen by a dentist or dental hygienist will also be required by the school.
Even though these visits are required, you can still use the time to talk with a doctor or dentist about your child’s health, any concerns you have, and ask questions that will ensure you are on the same page about their health.
Be sure to read up on all the requirements and changes to New York State law that are going into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.
Sports Physicals vs. Annual Checkups
These two exams are not the same. When your child gets a physical to make sure they are ready for the upcoming sports season, the goal is to determine if they can safely participate in that sport.
A checkup allows for more time to review a child’s medical history, discuss medications, and conduct a full exam that is more detailed, including vision and hearing tests, as well as developmental screenings.
While sports physicals serve an important purpose for the upcoming months, a yearly checkup can be a time to think about your child’s long-term health. During a checkup, the doctor can determine if a plan of care is needed for any problems that are found, and can also order labs and other tests, as well as making any needed referrals.
A yearly checkup can also be a time for a little bit of learning (even though it’s summer). The doctor can discuss topics with you and your child such as diet, sleep, safety, and matters that relate to family, and even school.
Advice from an Expert
An annual checkup can help your kids start to feel comfortable at the doctor’s office, and can even help them get past any fears they have about getting those dreaded shots.
“For young kids, the first thought when they go to the doctor is often related to fears about getting shots, and that can leave a lasting impression,” says CDPHP medical director Pablo Lopez, MD. “By starting early, kids can learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of when they go to the doctor.”
During a visit to the Troy City School District’s School 2 in May, Dr. Lopez spoke with young students about trips to the doctor, and even had the help of Elmo and Bugs Bunny, while making sure the students knew that a trip to the doctor doesn’t have to be scary.
“The doctor is there to help kids be as healthy as they can be,” Dr. Lopez says. “By coming to the doctor for a yearly checkup, a doctor can build a relationship with kids and their parents, and can be an important partner in a child’s long-term health.”
Take the First Steps
If you haven’t started checkups as your annual family routine, don’t worry.
Start off by finding a doctor and setting an appointment. Then, read up on some of the important tests and examinations your child should have to keep them healthy from childhood through adolescence.
Many of these preventive services – checkups, vaccines, and screenings – are available at no cost to CDPHP members when they are provided by an in-network doctor. (That’s right…FREE!)
As always, be sure to talk with your child’s doctor about concerns over their health, and ask questions whenever you are unsure about a topic that’s being discussed.