Back to School Tips: The Importance of Annual Physicals

Posted at 11:12 AM on Aug 7, 2023

When was your child’s last well child check?  Within the past year?  If not, it’s time to schedule your child for their annual physical! As Summer Break comes to a close, parents and kids are preparing to get back to school. This can be a busy time of year for families. Between buying school supplies and new school clothes, remembering to schedule a checkup with your family doctor may get lost in the shuffle. The end of Summer Break is a great time for kids to have their annual checkup with their family doctor.


What is covered during an annual physical?

Growth and Development

Every annual well child check includes a close look at growth and development and is a great opportunity to discuss behavioral concerns, sleep, eating habits, and safety.

Chronic Illness Management and Medication Refills

Getting a checkup before school starts allows your doctor to re-evaluate and update your child’s active medical conditions and gives us the opportunity to refill medications. Whether it be asthma/allergy medications or ADHD medications, having an updated prescription and a health information plan with your child’s school nurse is important to ensure good continuity of care while your child is at school. 

Hearing and Vision

Also, as part of an annual checkup, vision and hearing tests are done to screen for any deficits. If deficits are discovered, appropriate referrals and treatment can be initiated prior to the school year starting to ensure classroom learning is not affected by problems with vision or hearing.


A back-to-school physical allows your doctor to update your child’s immunizations. Schools often require an updated list of completed recommended immunizations for each child. If it has been a few years since your child has been seen for a checkup, they may have missed out on a scheduled vaccination, or guidelines may have changed or new vaccines released. With an annual checkup, we can make sure your child is up to date with the most recent recommended schedule of vaccinations.

Sports Physical

Will your child be competing in school athletics? If so, they will need a Minnesota Sports Physical form completed. This can be done during your child’s annual checkup. Obtaining a detailed medical history and performing a complete physical examination allows your family doctor to determine if your child is healthy enough to participate in athletics or if any restrictions may be needed. While it is uncommon, undiagnosed medical conditions in childhood can lead to significant health risks with participation in athletics. An annual checkup is the best way to evaluate these conditions and avoid any potential risks. 


Discuss the Tough Stuff

Lastly, a back-to-school physical allows us to discuss any concerns you or your child may have. Adolescents face some significant challenges with their health. Questions about puberty, relationships with friends, alcohol/drugs, and sexual intercourse can be difficult to discuss but are all topics on the minds of most teenagers. An annual physical allows your family doctor to counsel on these topics and promote a healthy lifestyle. Even things like eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are things that children and adolescents need to be reminded of. and your family doctor can help identify ways to improve these aspects of your child’s overall health. 

At Northwest Family Clinics, we enjoy this time of year. It’s a great opportunity to address any concerns among our young pediatric patients with them and their parents prior to starting the school year. Regular checkups allow us to establish a high level of preventive care and hopefully set them up for a successful year of learning. Schedule your child for a physical with their family provider today!