By Dr. Amanda Penny
You have probably heard your doctor or nurse use the word, “wellness visit” at some point. What does this mean and what should you expect? Before your child reaches age 3, they will have many checkups (or wellness visits) with their pediatrician during the year. However, after age 3, these checkups are recommended yearly. These are a great time to discuss any concerns you have with your doctor. They are also an opportunity for your doctor to ask about specific problems or situations that may occur at your children’s different ages. At Children’s Medical Group, we offer easy and convenient online scheduling for these important checkups or you can simply call the nurse to make the appointment.
After checking in with our front desk, your child will be measured by one of our medical staff. We will record their height, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate. It is normal for children to be nervous during this part of the process. I like to talk about the blood pressure cuff being a big hug on the arm. Discussing this big hug with your child prior to the visit can help them feel more comfortable. If the blood pressure is elevated, we often recheck it at the end of the visit. Typically, by the end of the visit, the child feels more relaxed and comfortable and the blood pressure is likely to be normal.
After collecting these vitals, you and your child will be shown to a private room to wait on the doctor. If you have a teen, they will be asked to complete a depression screening test. When the doctor arrives, you will then be able to discuss your specific concerns or anything else you may be experiencing or have questions about. It helps many parents to make a list (often in the notes app on their phone) to ensure they don’t forget anything. After discussing and listening to your questions or concerns, your doctor will run through a set of routine questions tailored to the age of your child. Next, your doctor will perform a complete examination of your child. This ensures they do not have any abnormal physical findings.
Toward the end of the visit, we may need to do some additional screening including vision screening, routine bloodwork, and urinalysis. We decide this based on our assessment of your child and what may be covered by your insurance. Your child may also need their recommended or required vaccines. Before these wellness visits or checkups, many parents reassure their child by telling them they will not get any shots or sticks and may find their child actually needs a shot or blood test. Therefore, when preparing for a visit, if asked by your child prior to the appointment if they will get shots, I recommend saying, “I don’t know but I know your doctor will tell us if we need them”. This helps you and us by not promising something that then needs to be changed in the room.
These wellness visits are also important to complete required physical forms for sports, school, or camp activities. We are happy to help complete these for you during these visits. These visits may sound like a lot, but they are important and usually routine opportunities to check in and talk to your doctor. Your child’s health and well-being are the most important thing to us at Children’s Medical Group. Therefore, we want to you leave with all your questions answered so that you feel confident in yourself and your child for completing a very important part of staying healthy!