Most colleges and universities require a pre-entrance physical examination, and even if yours does not, it’s a good idea to have one. If you are one of the many students heading off to school in the fall, or preparing to start your sports season, be sure to schedule your physical beforehand since some schools and sports teams make this a requirement. This exam will offer you an opportunity to check your health status, learn how to stay healthy, and to plan what to do if problems do arise.
This may be your first visit since seeing a pediatrician, and it is a good opportunity to assume responsibility for your own health and healthcare. Consider this a good time to learn about yourself and your body and how you can stay healthy for the future.
What Will My Exam Include?
- An overview of your health history
- A complete physical exam
- Laboratory tests, if needed
- Immunizations, if needed
- Completion of school forms, if needed
- Health and lifestyle counseling
Your visit will start off with a series of questions in order for the physician to get a better understanding of your health history and if you have a set of forms from your school be sure to bring them with you to have your physician fill them out. Remember, these forms take time, and time is very valuable to both you and your physician. It is important that you are honest with your physician in order for him or her to give you the proper care that you need. If you are curious about something, or if you are uncomfortable with a question that is being asked, you have the right to voice your opinion. This is your chance to ask all of the questions that you feel are too silly to ask, with confidence, while the two of you are alone. Your physician is the one with most of the answers.
What Lab Tests Need To Be Done?
Depending on the findings from your physical exam and your health history, your physician may recommend certain lab tests. If you are sexually active, your physician may perform a pap smear and tests for sexually transmitted infections. If you have any other concerns that you wish to be tested for, you should ask. Some tests that your physician may recommend are:
- Tests for high cholesterol
- Thyroid problems
- Tuberculosis, if your school requires it
You may ask for all copies of these tests results for both your school and to keep for your records.
Will I Need Immunizations?
If you are seeing a new physician, be sure to bring a copy of your immunization records to prevent any unnecessary vaccines. However, since most of your required vaccines were probably given during childhood, you should be OK. Most schools require that students are fully vaccinated against measles, polio, German measles, mumps, chickenpox, tetanus, diphtheria, and hepatitis B. If you are missing one of these vaccinations, you will be required to have that done. A combination tetanus-diphtheria booster is recommended every 10 years, so you will need a tetanus booster if you have gone ten years. We always recommend our patients get their flu shot every year, so it would make a good habit to get your flu shot annually.
At the end of your appointment, your physician will sign your paperwork and give you the OK to start your semester or sports season as long as you have a clean bill of health.