Well Child Checkups: Prevention is the Best MedicineFeb 7, 2014
Most of the time you take your kids to the doctor only when they’re sick, but is this the best mindset? If you could prevent your child from feeling unwell and miserable, wouldn’t you? From Teton Valley Health Care in Driggs, Idaho, family nurse practitioner Kristen Coburn talks about well-child checkups and preventive steps you can take to keep your kids healthy year-round.
Interviewer: Most of the time, you take your kids to the doctor when they're sick or when there's something wrong with them. Is that always the best idea? We're gonna learn more about well-child check-ups and other things you can do preventatively to keep your kids healthy next on The Scope.
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Interviewer: Kristen Coburn is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs, Idaho. Let's talk about keeping the kids healthy with preventative measures, and let's start off with what is a well-child check? This is an interesting thing.
Kristen Coburn: A well-child check is when you bring your child in. They're well. You talk about their diet. You talk about safety issues. You talk about eating concerns that the parent has. It's a wellness visit for your children, and you give them immunizations if they need to. You talk about things to keep them healthy, so it is a health promotion visit.
Interviewer: Going to a doctor when you're not sick, that sounds very novel.
Kristen Coburn: It's awesome.
Interviewer: I bet it's awesome.
Kristen Coburn: Because then you can hopefully prevent illness, hopefully prevent things.
Interviewer: Is this a new concept, a well-child check-up? When I was a kid, I sure didn't go to the doctor when I was feeling well.
Kristen Coburn: It's not brand-new, but it's a nice opportunity to just get questions answered, reassure parents, and make sure that the kids are on a road to a healthy lifestyle.
Interviewer: When did these start? At what age, and how often do you go in?
Kristen Coburn: We'll see them about a week after they're born and then typically at two months of age, we'll start some of the immunizations. The hepatitis B vaccine actually starts at birth. Then we just check to make sure they're growing at an appropriate rate. We make sure that all their organs are functioning appropriately. Then they'll come in every two months until age six months, then they'll go to three months. Then after they're about two years old, they go to yearly visits. It follows the recommended vaccine schedule by the CDC, typically.
Interviewer: And it goes on until age . . .
Kristen Coburn: 18.
Interviewer: Until age 18?
Kristen Coburn: Then you start into the adult-well visits. But a lot of kids will come in for sports physicals when they get into athletics in middle school and high school, and we can combine those visits.
Interviewer: What would you like parents to know? If there's one thing you could just say, 'I wish you knew this. This is important to your child's wellbeing and health.'
Kristen Coburn: Well, I would hope that they'd be aware that we do offer well-child visits, but I also think that immunizations are an important part of staying healthy.
Interviewer: Other than getting your shots, what are some other health tips you have for parents?
Kristen Coburn: You know, making sure that they eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, making sure that they limit their screen time because that's a sedentary activity. Making sure their kids get some exercise every day. Learn to like water. You don't need a sports drinks. Those are designed for the Florida Gaters, you know.
Kristen Coburn: Really.
Interviewer: That's interesting. So would you say that's the order of importance for you?
Kristen Coburn: I don't know if that's the order of importance, but that's how it came.
Interviewer: But some important stuff?
Kristen Coburn: Yeah. It's just the basic stuff.
Interviewer: I'm sure.
Kristen Coburn: You know.
Interviewer: Basic. That's interesting that you would say is that it's just basic stuff. It kinda comes back to the basics, doesn't it?
Kristen Coburn: It does, and if we even think about how our ancestors were even raised, they didn't have soda pop. They didn't have candy. They didn't have Gatorade or whatever, you know, that's a brand name. But they lived really quite well just eating what they grew themselves and getting plenty of fresh water and fresh air.
Interviewer: Absolutely. In this area here, in the Driggs, Idaho, area what do you find are some challenges for the children that are here? Are there any unique challenges here?
Kristen Coburn: I think even with the weather, you know, it's easier to stay indoors.
Interviewer: Sure. Yeah. In the Winter, it gets really cold.
Kristen Coburn: It does, and if they don't have the funds to ski and do some of those things that cost a little more money, it takes it a little difficult. The school district here has always promoted at least ski schools, it's what they used to call it, but now it's Winter sports. The kids have four or five weeks during January and February to participate in outdoor activities, but, you know, like I said, it's expensive.
Kristen Coburn: So not everyone gets to participate throughout this season.
Interviewer: So you would recommend getting out and maybe doing a good old-fashioned free snowball fight? Bundle up?
Kristen Coburn: Absolutely.
Interviewer: And wear your eye protections.
Kristen Coburn: That's right. And don't come in my house for two hours.
Interviewer: Yeah. What are some of the things you recommend to patients that have children that are sedentary?
Kristen Coburn: You talk to the kid first and see what they're interested in. Encourage them to try things. A rule in our house with our kids growing up was you had to have a Fall, a Winter, and a Spring sport. And you can pick. But, you know, with kids, play is normal. Get outside. Create your own fun. Mud puddle. Stick. You know, you can do a lot of things with a stick and a rock.
Interviewer: Any final thoughts or anything you feel compelled to tell me?
Kristen Coburn: I think the thing that sticks in my head is preventative care is the ticket. You know, we take better care of our automobiles and our pets, sometimes, than we do for ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves first and then we have the ability to take care of others.
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