High school kids are about the healthiest people around. They can eat huge piles of food without having to watch their weight, their immune systems are totally awesome, they are mostly past the age of ear infections and other little kids problems, they know something about hygiene so they aren’t spreading germs around like snotty little kids do, and all the “old people problems” are a few decades away.
So, why the heck do they need to get so many physical exams?
Our government and schools have decided that teenagers need a physical for sports (once a year in Pennsylvania). They also need to be up to date on their immunizations to be ready for high school. On top of that, they need a physical for their driver’s license, and for their work permit. Each of these physical is perfunctory, and would not be likely to catch any serious problems.
Before we figured things out, and managed to combine some of these exams, my oldest daughter probably needed seven physicals to navigate her way through the teenage years. She is about the healthiest creature on the planet, so all this “medical care” was completely wasted on her. If you can run a half marathon, do you really need a doctor to tell you it is OK to get a job at McDonald’s?
So here is a modest proposal:
When you are ready to start high school, you get the physical examination that proves that you are healthy enough to function as a young adult. The examination will be reasonably thorough; in fact, it will have a reasonable chance of detecting the sorts of problems that cause apparently healthy athletes to suddenly drop dead.
After passing this exam, the teenager may then play sports, got to school, get a job, and get a driver’s license, without any additional required poking, prodding, and questioning until they reach full adulthood.
If this change was made to our laws, no one would be less healthy, school districts would save money, parents of teenagers would have a lot less hassle, and doctors could spend more of their time treating sick people.