by M. Rachel McGuffey, MD, Lexington Clinic Pediatrician

The time has come for children to prepare for the upcoming school year. Notebooks, pencils, binders and backpacks are a necessity for most students – but what about a back-to-school physical?

A majority of parents think that as long as their child is healthy and they are not participating in school sports, there is no need for a doctor’s visit prior to the school year. However a back-to-school physical is one of the most important parts of preparing for the coming year.

For most children in good health, a back-to-school physical may be the only time they see their pediatrician all year. For this reason, it is important to ensure a child is at that appointment in order to maintain a relationship with the child’s pediatrician. During this appointment, the child will also receive a thorough physical evaluation, which allows for early detection of any possible risk factors and health concerns.

Most importantly, a back-to-school physical is the ideal time to ensure children are receiving the required vaccines at the appropriate times. Most of these vaccines are required before a child can enroll at a school, and receiving the boosters at the appropriate times ensures maximum protection for the child from these diseases.

An annual back-to-school physical also allows the pediatrician to address any emotional, developmental or social concerns a child, or child’s parents, may have. As a child turns into a teenager, their pediatrician may be a trusted source to discuss social issues including drinking, drugs, smoking, sexual activity and depression.

If you have any questions about your child’s back-to-school physical, or to schedule with your child’s pediatrician before school starts, please visit
M. Rachel McGuffey, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician at Lexington Clinic at Eagle Creek Medical Plaza. She provides primary care for children, childhood immunizations, well-child physicals, and school and sports physicals. Dr. McGuffey's professional interest is general pediatrics.