When dealing with an orthopedic injury, there are many factors people experience when choosing their doctor. Many people will go on the recommendation of friends or co-workers, perhaps the doctor is a family friend, the primary care physician might refer to a specific doctor, and one might even search the web. When choosing your sports medicine doctor there are several things to consider and questions to ask prior to making that commitment.
Is the doctor sports medicine trained? In order to specialize in sports medicine, the doctor should have completed a sports medicine fellowship. A fellowship is a period of time after their residency which allows them to train with experts in a certain area. Are they a “Team Physician” for a local team? Many sports medicine specialists are team physicians for local sports teams of all levels. Does the doctor have a specialty? Many orthopedic surgeons will specialize in certain areas such as the shoulder, foot and ankle, spine, etc. in addition to sports medicine. What is the percent of patients that are athletes they see? Does the doctor have professional memberships to multiple professional organizations? Are they published? Choosing a doctor with these is an important consideration, but ensuring the doctor is right for you should be the reason to choose that doctor.
For example, when needing a doctor to do a shoulder labrum repair, choosing the local MLB team’s physician might not be what is right for you. Is their office easy to get to? Will they spend quality time with you in clinic? Are they in direct contact with the physical therapist or athletic trainer providing your rehabilitative care? Do you feel comfortable with that physician when seeing them in the office? Choosing your sports medicine doctor is a tough decision but one that should make you feel confident in the care you will be receiving.
Meghan McKay, MEd, LAT, ATC