Your Back to School Wellness Visit Checklist

With a new school year around the corner, families prepare to scour local stores for supplies, adjust the kids’ sleep schedule and make a last-minute appointment with the doctor.

While yearly check-ups might seem trivial, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that annual visits to the doctor are especially important during adolescence because vital changes are occurring. Neglecting to schedule this appointment could be a missed opportunity to learn crucial wellness, anticipatory guidance and necessary vaccines. Luckily, the process is relatively simple and doesn’t have to be a headache for the family.

Keep some of these tips in mind to ease the stress of getting in to see the doctor:

  • Find a Primary Doctor. If you don’t already have a primary care pediatrician or family practitioner, start researching physicians in the area who suit the family’s health needs. Ask friends, family or neighbors for recommendations of doctors with whom they’ve had good experiences. While this may be a lengthier task, especially if time is taken to meet different candidates, it’s worthwhile. When it’s time to make an appointment before school starts, the family is familiar with their physician and confident of his or her ability to care for your child.
  • Check in Before it’s Time for a Check-Up. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule a child’s back-to-school physical. Be sure to set a reminder, such as a phone alert or a note on the calendar. The earlier an appointment is made, the better the chances of getting in before the usual back-to-school rush. Trying to schedule too late may result in not being able to see the doctor until after school starts, which could impact his/her ability to participate in certain sports or activities.
  • Make a Check-Up Check List. Since no two children are the same, doctor visits may need to be catered to age, gender, athletic participation, etc. It’s best to know what kind of care a child needs beforehand. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, all children in grades K-12 are required to receive the recommended vaccines in order to attend Michigan schools. It is important to let the doctor know if a child has experienced any unusual reactions, allergies or sensitivities to any immunization. An easy-to-follow schedule, as well as in-depth information around each individual vaccination can be found here.
  • Prepare for Sick Season. During a back-to-school doctor’s appointment, schedule another check-up for the middle of the school year. Flu and cold-like symptoms are most common in the winter months when respiratory viruses thrive. Cold and flu season approach quickly, so stay on top of scheduling the next checkup in advance.

Dr. T. Jann Caison-Sorey is a pediatrician, adolescent medicine physician and senior medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. 

Photo Credit: Daniel X. O’Nell

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