Having your child get a Well Child Check-up at school may sound like a good idea but the truth of the matter may surprise you.
If you've completed paperwork during registration for your child to have this done at school this year please read the following.
Some parents that we’ve talked to don’t realize that having an annual wellness check at school would disqualify their child from having an annual check up with their pediatrician from an insurance perspective.
That's right, if it's done at school, you can't go to your doctor also to get one.
In a time of disjointed medical care where services are rendered in grocery stores, pharmacies and even urgent cares & ERs are used as PCPs - this is another example where what seems quick and convenient isn't always best for your child.
Your health care visit should not be like driving through a fast food chain, where pre-made food has been sitting under a lamp for who knows how long...food with little to no nutritional value for your body.
If your child is our patient then we take pride that we are their home for medical needs. We've known them for a while. We know all their health information. We know what medications they need and want to make sure that they are thoroughly evaluated at every visit.
This is what one mother said about us yesterday - “They treat you like family and try to make everyone comfortable...they greet my daughter by name and not just her first name but her nickname…”
When a well child check is done at school, the nurse that checks them will never have to see them again.
If the nurse thinks that there is anything wrong with your child then they will refer them back to your child's doctor. What's the big deal?
In my experience these providers can’t distinguish between a concerning finding or a normal finding and that's why your child is being referred back to your regular doctor, which necessitates a visit to your doctor anyway.
You'll save no doctor visit trips.
For example, I often have children referred back to me after the check up done at school with concerns of a heart murmur. Neither my colleagues nor I have ever heard a heart murmur on this child and sure enough when the child follows up to see me they still don't have a heart murmur and they don't need a referral to a heart specialist. Lots of unnecessary worry.
And if there is a problem, then that again requires an extra visit because they cannot take care of a referral for your child. They do not refer.
And the child may not need a referral, they may just need to be taken care of by their doctor. At school check ups- there is no interest in treating 'suspected conditions' only, “follow up with your regular doctor.”
Your child may or may not get the blood work they need and if you’re told it’s “abnormal” then the blood work has to be repeated when your child presents to your regular doctor because at school they do not treat conditions, only - “follow up with your regular doctor.”
Also, if it were me, I would not send my child to a clinician that I've never met to perform a head to toe exam without me or another family member being present. And, if your child is not undergoing a head to toe examination, then you can be guaranteed that things have not been done thoroughly and properly.
What about the argument that they don't have to miss school and they can get a check-up done without missing school. This is a sales tactic. If they're being called away from the teacher and waiting for their turn in the “cafetorium” for their check up then they are missing school. There's no learning going on during that time.
We've tried to make access very convenient by offering more time slots in the afternoons after school. At our clinic, we have more providers now and also encourage check ups during those times of the year when your child is not in school. It's very easy to get an appointment with us.
There is one scenario where I think a service like this might be helpful - where there is no access to medical care and children do not have a doctor, but I don't think that this is the case in our area and we are proud to consider ourselves a medical home for many and encourage our parents to use us in this way.
Hopefully, your child is healthy and well. In that case, their annual check up may be the one time during the year that we get to see you as a family and review things together that are important regarding your child’s health. We’ll look for any concerning signs that need to be addressed sooner, rather than later, and actually treat those conditions.
Consider us a five-star restaurant and we'll have your table waiting with a reserved sign on it for you and your family.
Call for a reservation today!
Oh, and call the school also and tell them like one mother I talked to this week- "Thanks, but no thanks! No well child check ups at school for our family!”
Primary Care Pediatrics