Don't Forget to Schedule your College Student's Physical - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 15, 2015

Don't Forget to Schedule Your College Student's Physical

Even if your child’s school doesn’t require a physical
exam, it’s still a good opportunity to check their
health status and plan on what to do
if problems arise while they’re away.

When your child is preparing to leave for college, you’re likely busy making sure they have everything they need from school supplies to toiletries in their dorm room. But another very important thing he or she should have before move-in day is a physical.

Most colleges and universities require a physical exam, but even if your child’s school doesn’t, it’s still a good idea to have one. The physical gives them the opportunity to check their health status, learn how to stay healthy and plan on what to do if problems arise while they’re away – in general, it gives them the chance to take charge of their health – possibly for the first time as an adult.

Before the exam begins, the healthcare provider will need to learn your teen’s health history – this may be done through filling out a questionnaire or by asking them questions directly. If you accompany your child to this exam, you may want to give them privacy during this portion of the visit so he or she feels comfortable to be open and honest with their clinician.

Some of these questions may be about medication and food allergies, past or current health issues, medication use and even surprising questions about whether they wear a seatbelt, eating habits, use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and sexual activity. These questions are designed to give your healthcare provider an idea of your past and current health status.

Then comes the examination. Your teen will have his or her height, weight and blood pressure measured as well as their skin, ears, eyes, nose, throat, neck, breasts, lungs, heart and abdomen checked.

At this point, your healthcare provider may request certain blood tests, such as tests for cholesterol levels, anemia or thyroid problems. The doctor may also recommend Pap and sexually transmitted disease tests.

Oftentimes, colleges and universities require their students be up-to-date on all of their immunizations before the first day of class. If your children received all of their childhood immunizations, they may not need any more before heading off to school. However, they may need tetanus-diphtheria booster – it’s recommended every 10 years. Your doctor may also recommend a yearly flu shot.

Since college students typically live in groups in dorms, they are more likely to contract meningitis. Although outbreaks are rare, they sometimes occur on college campuses. Since this is a serious illness that can cause inflammation of the brain, your doctor may advise your teen to get the meningitis vaccine.

At the end of the exam, your doctor will have a complete view of your teen’s overall health in addition to being sure that your child is healthy. This will allow them to counsel your child on how to protect their health as they venture into this big, new phase in life.

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