What Is a Well-Child Exam?

Well child exams track your child’s growth and development and check for early signs of illnesses. Many summer camps, sports teams, and schools require a well-child exam, also known as a physical examination, to ensure that your child is physically able to participate in athletic or camp activities.

At our office, we recommend scheduling well child exams at least six weeks in advance of the start of athletics, camp, or school. This will allow plenty of time for any follow-up appointments that may be needed. Even if your child doesn’t participate in sports or camps, a well-child appointment is recommended annually for all children over the age of three, and younger children need more frequent exams.

What Is Included in a Well-Child Appointment?

The well-child appointment includes checks of your child’s vital signs, and both blood and urine tests may also be performed. Staff will ask questions about your child’s medical history and current health, and the appointment is centered around a physical examination from a doctor or nurse practitioner.

What Can I Expect During My Child’s Appointment?

After you’ve completed some information about your child’s medical history, a nurse will record your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, respiration rate, and temperature. If required, he or she may also take a blood sample, and your child will be shown to a bathroom to provide a urine sample.

Your child will then be taken to a private exam room. Depending on your child’s age, you may wish to stay in the exam room with him or her.

Next, a doctor will come into the exam room. He or she will start by greeting you and your child and asking questions about any changes in health status. To begin the physical exam, the clinician will feel your child’s pulse and look in his or her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Then, he or she will listen to your child’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Your child will be asked to breathe in and out several times during this portion of the exam, and the doctor may listen with your child sitting up and lying down.

While your child lies down, the physician will listen to his or her abdomen, and he or she will gently feel across this area, checking for any pain or masses. To conclude the exam, the doctor may check your child’s reflexes and coordination, and he or she may watch as your child walks around the exam room. For sports physicals, range of motion in several joints may be evaluated, and you may be asked about any previous injuries your child has had.

What Happens After the Exam?

The doctor will fill out any necessary exam forms for your child’s athletic or other activities, and he or she will call you with results of any lab tests that were performed. If any areas of concern were identified during the exam, the clinician will follow up with you about recommended next steps and any future appointments that may be needed.

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