A super adorable girl of African ethnicity is at her doctor's office for a check up.
A super adorable girl of African ethnicity is at her doctor's office for a check up. She is sitting on the examination table while her doctor is using a stethoscope to listen to her chest. Credit: Getty Images

Texas Children’s Pediatrics makes it easy for you to include well-child visits into your yearly routine. Modern living places many demands on parents’ and families’ time, but the time spent developing a relationship with your pediatrician is worth it.

“As a society, we are used to thinking, ‘when I’m sick I’ll go to the doctor.’ It’s a different mindset to think that when you’re well, you go to the doctor so you can stay well,” said Desiree Evans, MD, MPH, pediatrician with Texas Children’s Pediatrics.

Addressing barriers to care

Finding the time for another appointment can be the most universally difficult factor that prevents families from making and keeping a well-child appointment. To help busy parents prioritize well check appointments for their children Texas Children’s Pediatrics offers weekend appointments at many clinics. If you don’t have insurance or are under insured, many Texas Children’s clinics are staffed with social workers who are eager to ensure that families are taking full advantage of all insurance options available to them. Additional resources are available at many of these clinics to support the unique needs of each family. Barriers to care can be significant, but Texas Children’s is determined to help you focus on your child’s health and wellbeing.

It’s not just the shots

Your pediatrician uses the well-child visit to screen for common illnesses, evaluate growth and development, consider emotional and social health and support your family all before vaccines are discussed. Sometimes a pediatrician can facilitate conversations that can be difficult for children and parents or caregivers to discuss, such as bullying, grades, drugs and siblings.

“Raising kids is hard but to know that you have community support helps and that’s why we like to call our clinics a medical home,” said Dr. Evans.

This medical home model of care encourages open communication between families and pediatricians with the goal of fostering a sense of community and creating a safe space for challenging conversations.

Sports physicals

Before participation in many school activities, which can include dance, marching band, football or swimming, many schools require that a participation physical exam form be completed by a medical provider. Dr. Evans recommends asking that the sports physical be included with a well-child visit if you’re short on time or you have concerns about insurance coverage.

“Some insurances will still charge the sports physical fee, but typically when we bundle them together, we haven’t had issues with it being covered,” said Dr. Evans.

Seeing your primary pediatrician for this visit is important because, more than just a form, it screens for serious heart or joint conditions that could impact your child’s ability to participate. A pediatrician can also follow-up on past injuries, including concussions that occurred during the previous season’s activities. Endurance athletes benefit from counseling regarding adequate hydration and nutrition. Female athletes may have questions about how sports affect their menstrual cycles. An experienced pediatrician can help pre-teens and adolescents navigate competitive athletics and learn to advocate for themselves.

Adolescent health

A preventive health visit for teens should be structured differently from a well-child exam so that they learn to take responsibility and ownership of their own health. Some one-on-one time between the doctor and the child without parents or caregivers present encourages this independence and enables a pediatrician to address health concerns around sexual activity, drug use, mental health and other topics that some teens may have difficulty discussing otherwise.

“I make sure that patients know what we talk about is between us. Unless you plan to hurt yourself or someone else, it stays between us. Wetalk about drugs, alcohol, sex, sexuality, bullying.,” said Dr. Evans.

Dr. Evans will, in some cases, ask a teen if he/she can share sensitive information with their caregiver to help find a solution to a difficult problem, always keeping the best interest of the child as her top priority.

Launching to adulthood

Starting from the newborn physical and moving through the ups and downs of adolescence, consistent contact with a dedicated pediatrician can support the whole family. Dr. Evans likes to help kids see their capabilities and potential for growth, in addition to addressing both routine and complex health concerns.

“By 10th grade, I start asking where they see their future. What do you like? What are you interested in? Have you taken the SAT or ACT? Mom and Dad, remember that programs pay for these tests. We have resources to help kids succeed,” said Dr. Evans. “I like to tell parents we are part of the family.”

Texas Children’s Pediatrics offers evening and weekend appointments to suit your schedule.

To make an appointment, call the location nearest you.