There are many good reasons for a student to have a medical examination prior to attending school. All involve protecting individual children and their classmates. The doctor determines whether the student:

  • Has a contagious condition
  • Has a weight problem
  • Is growing at a normal rate
  • Needs glasses, a hearing aid, or other devices
  • Requires further diagnostic testing
  • Is up to date on immunizations
  • Needs special classroom accommodations
  • Requires medications during the school day

By performing a school physical, the doctor is able to evaluate the general health of the child or adolescent and determine whether any further medical consultation is necessary.

Medical History

Taking a medical history is part of any thorough physical examination. The doctor will ask questions designed to protect the student from possible dangers during an average school day or during participation in sports or another exercise. The physician will make a note of any:

  • Congenital defects
  • Chronic disease conditions
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • History of seizures
  • Previous surgical procedures
  • Prescription medications
  • Allergies
  • Previous injuries
  • Family history of medical problems

When the student is an adolescent, this portion of the school physical exam may also provide an opportunity to discuss matters of possible concern, such as smoking, drinking, drug use, sexual activity or depression.

The School Physical Procedure

During the course of the school physical, the doctor:

  • Records height and weight
  • Checks pulse and blood pressure
  • Evaluates posture, mobility, muscle strength
  • Checks heart, lung, and bowel function
  • Examines ears, nose, and throat
  • Administers vision and hearing tests

Depending on the state, the particular school, and the age of the student, other screenings may be performed, such as for lead or tuberculosis. If any immunizations are necessary, they may be administered during the school physical.

Why does my child need yearly physical exams?

Some parents have asked why their child needs to come to the office for a complete physical every year, even if they seem perfectly healthy. Children are not “little adults,” and a lot can change as each year goes on to the next. The doctors at Child Health Associates are experts in child development and child assessment. Your child’s growth is an important sign of health. We carefully weigh and measure your child and plot his or her growth on national growth charts. In this way, we can assess overweight, underweight, and general nutrition. We accurately measure your child’s height, making sure that the height velocity is normal. Healthy height velocity suggests normal levels of growth hormone and other factors necessary for steady growth.

Letting us see your child every year gives you a chance to take time aside from your busy schedule to consider questions about general health, proper nutrition, and normal child and adolescent development. It is an opportunity to ask the doctor any questions that have come up during the year, and to discuss health and school or learning concerns. It is an opportunity for you as a parent to partner with your doctor to reinforce healthy lifestyle choices for your child.