The annual wellness exam is an important part of your child’s life, even when they enter their teen years. Not only do regular check-ups allow us to monitor your child’s physical and emotional development which will change drastically during puberty, but we have the chance to get to know your teen and his or her specific needs. Furthermore, if your teen needs a last minute sports clearance form filled out, their annual physical exam should work. Here are six more reasons to make sure your teen sees their CPCMG pediatrician for an annual wellness exam:
1. Height and weight check: Monitoring your teen’s growth allows us to identify any concerns with growth velocity or potential abnormalities in growth and pubertal development. We will also talk to your teen about getting regular exercise and eating healthy meals to ensure healthy growth. Furthermore, on their physical exam we will check for scoliosis, a curve in the spine that can develop in adolescence and progress during rapid growth spurts.
2. Healthy Habits: We will not only speak with your teen about the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise, but also the importance of a regular sleep schedule. Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep at night. One thing that can interfere with your teen’s sleep is their screen time, which we will also talk about during their check up.
3. Blood pressure, vision and hearing checks: These tests help us find potential problems that may require more diagnostic testing or medical attention, either now or further down the road. Sometimes teens are nervous to come in so their blood pressure may be elevated. As your teen’s medical home, we can provide appropriate follow up when this occurs. Furthermore, we can refer to specialists if needed.
4. Immunizations: We will make sure your teen is up to date on all vaccines. Don’t forget that all 7th graders need their TdaP (tetanus and whooping cough booster).
5. Depression screening: Your teen’s emotional health is just as important as your teen’s physical health, so we’ll ask some questions about their overall state of mind and mood. All teens will fill out a confidential depression screen and if needed, we can refer you and your teen to local resources for additional assistance.
6. Discuss “hot topics”: In accordance with the law and in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics, we will give your teen the opportunity to speak privately with us and assure them that anything they say is confidential, unless there is risk of harm to themselves or others. No topic or question is off limits. We may ask questions about relationships, sex, problems at school, alcohol, tobacco, vaping and drugs, tattoos and piercings, and other potentially risky behaviors. Please know that if we are concerned your teen’s safety may be in question, we will discuss the situation with you to the extent that California law allows us to do so. You can learn more about teens and medical privacy on the CPCMG blog.
Your teen’s annual wellness check also provides the opportunity to take personal responsibility for their health and well-being. Your teen might decide to sign up for MyChart, where they have individual access to their electronic health records and can email their provider with any questions. We want to establish a productive relationship with your teen and work together, providing them with the information they need to make good decisions.
Special thanks to Dr. Anna Mendenhall (CPCMG Encinitas) and Dr. Shabnam Zargar (CPCMG Medical Center Court) for their contributions to this blog post.