You At Your Best

August 2017 • Back to School

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18 | YOU AT YOUR BEST | nwAdg.cOm/YOUATYOURBEST AUgUST - BAck TO SchOOl | SATURdAY, JUlY 29, 2017 Special to NWa Democrat-Gazette There are many things that must be done before sending your child back to school. In addition to buying new clothes and stocking your child's backpack with the right supplies, make sure she or he has an annual physical and the proper immunizations to start the new school year on a healthy foundation. "Annual checkups allow a physician get to know the medical history of your child and monitor their development from year to year," said Millicent Ford, M.D., pediatrician at The Children's Clinic at Springdale. "Establishing baseline information and history makes it easier to identify potential concerns over time. These visits are very important to maintaining the health of your child." Children should receive an annual checkup with their physician even if they are healthy. At a checkup, your child will receive a full physical exam including measurements, such as height and weight. This is a good time for parents to discuss any developmental, emotional or social concerns with the physician. Most insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover a free annual well-child visit. Immunizations are another important way to protect your child's health. Many children beginning school for the first time are required to have received certain vaccinations. Receiving the right shots at the right time will help protect your child from contracting various diseases and help prevent the spread to others. Talk with your physician to learn what vaccinations your child should receive and at what age. "It is essential for children to receive the right immunizations at the right time, especially before beginning school," Dr. Ford said. "There is a very low chance that your child will experience side effects after receiving any immunization, but remember these shots will protect your child in the long run." If your child or teenager is involved in sports or other physical activities, their coaches may require a sports physical before they begin to play. A sports exam is similar to an annual physical exam, with the addition of the physician's review of sports-related matters, such as nutrition and injuries. A primary care physician, such as a family practice or pediatrician, will be able to conduct a sports physical for your child. If you or a family member is looking for a pediatrician, Dr. Ford is taking new patients. Call 479-751-2522 or visit to make an appointment. From Eagle Scout to Family Medicine Physician Special to NWa Democrat-Gazette Gregory Spears, DO, became an Eagle Scout when he was 17 years old, an experience that taught him the necessary fearlessness and organizational skills to become a doctor. Dr. Spears recently joined the active medical staff of Northwest Health, practicing at Northwest Medical Plaza at Sugar Creek at 1102 N.W. Lowes Ave., Suite 2 in Bentonville. When he was younger, Dr. Spears used his learned fearlessness to talk to people, like community members and his counselors. This skill has carried over to his work, where the most fulfilling part for him is spending time with his patients and learning about their lives. Dr. Spears said the most important thing he can offer his patients is the ability to connect on a level that allows someone to feel trusted and heard, which in turn, allows them to share the necessary details to affect change when needed. Experiences with his mother and father led Dr. Spears and three of his five siblings to medical careers. He has a brother who is a doctor, one who is a paramedic and another who is a dentist. At one time, Dr. Spears' father was a paramedic in Los Angeles County. He shared stories about work with his children during that time. He also taught them about first aid and basic medicine. "I can remember playing with his stethoscope, and it was just the coolest thing," Dr. Spears said. His mother's passing from breast cancer taught him both empathy and compassion. Dr. Spears chose to focus on family medicine because he gets to help a variety of people with different aliments each day. He explained that he also likes to see the dynamic between family members who both see him. This allows him to learn about the background behind how an ailment is interpreted at home. Health is more than just physical, Dr. Spears said. Health consists of the mind, body and spirit. He takes all three into consideration when treating an ailment. "They are interconnected," he said. "One cannot be without the other in this life." Dr. Spears received his medical education at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, Calif. He completed his family medicine residency at Mercy Redding in California. He treats most ailments and sees patients of all ages. Dr. Spears and his wife have three sons and one daughter. Outside of work, he likes to take road trips with his family, hike, camp, road bike, mountain bike and fish. He remains involved with the Boy Scouts of America as a troop counselor and helps scouts with hikes, camps and merit badges. Dr. Spears is currently accepting new patients. Same day visits are often available. Visit or call 479-254-8563 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Gregory Spears NorthWeSt meDical ceNter PhysicianPROFILE: Dr. Millicent Ford Annual physicals are the cornerstone of a healthy school year

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