Walk-in Physicals: What to Expect
Sometimes, you just need something simple, that walk-in physicals can take care of. How do you know if you need a quick visit or a full doctor’s appointment? There’s a few things you can expect a walk-in physical to take care of for you immediately, without having to wait for your doctor to be available.
Sports and School P
Most athletes – at school and independent sports groups –
will need to have a physical to participate. Child physical exams might be a
slightly different than adult physical exams, and exams for different sports
may require some specific checks that other sports don’t need.
A sports physical involves checking over the student for physical ability to complete some of the trials of the sport. The doctor should check joint movement, reflexes, and eye and ear function. The doctor will likely also take blood pressure and a blood-oxygen check – which are both common vital signs that indicate overall health.
If the school or organization requires it, the doctor may
provide updated immunizations, or a few mild stress tests. Sometimes, the athlete
is asked to perform a mild physical exertion – such as a few jumping jacks or
running on a treadmill for a few minutes – to show their ability to perform
under the physical pressure. Swimmers might be asked to perform a lung capacity
Overall, the process for a school or sports physical should
be quick and easy, and certify that the athlete is capable to perform the sport
and unlikely to be a danger when playing with others.
Haven’t had your shots? Can’t remember? Most walk-in
physicals can perform basic and common immunizations without an appointment. Many
provide flu shots within minutes, helping to prevent you from getting sick during
the highly contagious flu season.
If you know you need a specific vaccination – like an MMR
booster or a tetanus shot – it might be helpful to call the walk-in clinic
ahead of time and make sure they can accommodate.
Eye and Hearing Check
If you’re having questions about visual or auditory
function, or if you need a physical for an insurance or employer, you can
probably expect a walk-in physical clinic to be able to help. Give them a call
to confirm, but most walk-in clinics can check the visual and auditory function
of adults and babies. Newborns should have their hearing checked within their
first 3 months, and again as necessary when they get older. At least, have them
checked again around their first birthday. A local clinic that provides walk-in
physicals should be able to help.
Prepare for Your Walk-in P
If you’re heading off for a walk-in visit to a clinic, there’s
a few things you might take with you:
- Any medicines you’ve taken within the past 7 days, as they may affect some of your vital signs or be important to note on the paperwork.
- Any allergies you are aware of.
- The most recent immunization records you have. If you don’t have any around your house, don’t worry.
- Any specific questions you have that need to be addressed. This is not the time to ask about chronic or ongoing issues. But if you have a minor issue, ask about an over the counter medication, or if you have something urgent, make sure to discuss it with the doctor.
You shouldn’t have to do much to prepare for your walk-in
physical. They may accept insurance, so you would want to take your insurance
information with you. And if there’s specific paperwork from your school, volunteer
organization, or employer, make sure you take that with you, too!
Walk-in Physicals Can Take a While
One trade off to not having a set appointment at a healthcare facility – you don’t have a guaranteed time to meet with the doctor. Instead, at most walk-in physicals, you wait in line. In this first-come, first-serve model, you are not sure how or when you will be served.
Be prepared – especially if there are a limited number of
walk-in clinics in your area or the deadline for your local school physicals is
approaching. There may be hundreds of other people who are at the same place,
also waiting for their “quick, in-and-out” visit for their walk-in physicals.