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Crow Wing Energized: Looking at well-child visits

Well-child visits are one of my favorites to perform as I get to meet the whole family and watch the interactions and children as they are growing and developing. Well-child visits help us to shape a child’s view on health care at a young age.

Children stand in a group with their hands touching in the center.
This is typically the time of year a provider assesses all aspects of a child’s health, including physical health, mental health, and social well-being.<br/>
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service
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Well-child visits are an important aspect of childhood.

This is typically the time of year a provider assesses all aspects of a child’s health. A typical well-child visit is composed of many different aspects to help review a child’s overall health. This includes physical health, mental health, and social well-being. At this visit nurses gather the child’s height and weight measurements. This is important to ensure children are following their growth curve. The growth curve starts after delivery with this first weight measurement. Then at each visit these weights are plotted in a curve, which are monitored into adulthood.

From a medical standpoint, if a child falls off their growth curve it is a sign that we need to begin monitoring them more closely or perform diagnostic studies to be sure there isn’t an underlying cause to their lack of growth. We also ask multiple screening questions.

Jenna Wiese photo
Jenna Wiese is a physician assistant - certified with Pillager Family Medicine/Baxter Family Medicine.<br/><br/><br/>
Contributed

This often can be started via MyChart before a visit to help allow for more time with their provider. When a child is young, we have parents answer the questions. As a child grows, they can begin answering these questions on their own. Questions range from asking about screen time and diet to discussing any new health concerns.

When children are young, we ask parents questions about development and any concerning behaviors. There are also screening tests for behavioral disorders that can alert us to diagnoses such as autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. When they are adolescents, we also begin to ask screening questions about depression, anxiety, and body image.

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Their provider interprets the results of the screening questionnaires. This allows the provider to discuss any concerns with the adolescent. I believe it is vital to begin assessing mental health concerns at a young age, to help give children and adolescents the tools they need to manage their emotions. Sometimes we discuss starting a medication but the cornerstone of treatment for depression and anxiety is counseling.

We often set them up with a therapist or counselor, if needed. I also like to inform the adolescent that I am also available to talk about mental health. We also discuss the importance of having a trusted adult in their life that they can talk to about their emotions or any risky behaviors. It is important for all of us to involve the child in their medical care. This instills autonomy for the child, as well as trust in their medical provider. We are working as a team to ensure the child is healthy and happy.

The team consists of the provider, the parents, and the child. It is important the child feels included in their care. Once the screening questionnaires are completed, we talk about health prevention. We discuss nutrition, physical activity, screen time, school performance, social behaviors, life at home, and safety issues. We also track immunizations and be sure that these are up to date.

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After talking extensively with parents and their children, we perform a physical exam and note any abnormalities. We are also able to perform sports physicals during well-child exams, which can be helpful before the school year starts. At any point during the visit, we are open to answering any questions and encourage parents to bring forward any concerns.

Well-child visits are one of my favorites to perform as I get to meet the whole family and watch the interactions and children as they are growing and developing. Well-child visits help us to shape a child’s view on health care at a young age. I hope we can form a healthy relationship during childhood so that preventative visits do not seem so daunting as an adult.

You can schedule a well-child visit with your pediatrician or family medicine provider.

Otherwise, if your child does not have a pediatrician or family medicine doctor, you can schedule by calling 844-663-1068, or you can schedule online through EssentiaHealth.org or through your Essentia MyChart account.

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