Many people perform physical exercise and play sports on a daily basis and consequently, these people have specific medical needs. To cater for these people a branch of medicine known as “sports medicine” came to be. The people who cater to the needs of these people are all a part of the sports medicine team. These are health care professionals who have undergone special training especially that of first aid training. The sports medicine team is spearheaded by the team physician.
The team physician must have an unrestricted medical license and be an MD or DO who is responsible for treating and coordinating the medical care of athletic team members. The principal responsibility of the team physician is to provide for the well-being of individual athletes – enabling each to realize his/her full potential. The team physician should possess special proficiency in the care of musculoskeletal injuries and medical conditions encountered in sports. The team physician also must actively integrate medical expertise with other healthcare providers, including medical specialists, athletic trainers, and allied health professionals. The team physician must ultimately assume responsibility within the team structure for making medical decisions that affect the athlete’s safe participation.
The primary concern of the team physician is to provide the best medical care for athletes at all levels of participation. These are the qualifications necessary for all team physicians. First, he should have an MD or DO in good standing, with an unrestricted license to practice medicine. He should possess a fundamental knowledge of emergency care regarding sporting events and be trained in CPR. He must have a working knowledge of trauma, musculoskeletal injuries, and medical conditions affecting the athlete. In addition, it is preferable for him to have clinical training/experience and administrative skills in some or all of the following: Specialty Board certification; continuing medical education in sports medicine; formal training in sports medicine; fifty percent or more of practice involving sports medicine; membership and participation in a sports medicine society; involvement in teaching, research and publications relating to sports medicine; training in advanced cardiac life support; knowledge of medical/legal, disability, and workers’ compensation issues; and media skills training.
As for the duties, the team physician must be willing to commit the ample time and effort to provide care to the athlete and team. In addition, the team physician must develop and maintain a current, appropriate knowledge base of the sport(s) for which he/she is accepting responsibility. The duties for which the team physician has ultimate responsibility are divided into two. First is the medical management of the athlete and this includes the following: coordinates pre-participation screening, examination, and evaluation; manages injuries on the field; provides for medical management of injury and illness; coordinates rehabilitation and return to participation; provides for proper preparation for safe return to participation after an illness or injury; integrates medical expertise with other health care providers, including medical specialists, athletic trainers and allied health professionals; provides for appropriate education and counseling regarding nutrition, strength and conditioning, ergogenic aids, substance abuse and other medical problems that could affect the athlete, and provide for proper documentation and medical record keeping. The second classification is administrative and logistical and these are the following duties: establishes and defines the relationships of all involved parties; educates athletes, parents, administrators, coaches, and other necessary parties of concerns regarding the athletes; develops a chain of command; plans and train for emergencies during competition and practice; addresses equipment and supply issues; provides for proper event coverage; and assesses environmental concerns and playing conditions.