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WHAT IS A TEAM PHYSICIAN?

The global demand for sports medicine physicians has grown concomitantly with the increase in athletic sporting events. The focus of medical care is not only on the evaluation and treatment of an acute musculoskeletal injury but also on the maintenance of general health to promote peak performance of the athlete. Team physicians have the leadership role in the organization, management, and provision of care of athletes in individual, team, and mass participation sporting events. There have been several consensus statements defining the role of the team physician, including one endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), and American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM). These consensus statements help describe the definition, qualifications, education, duties, and responsibilities of the team physician fulfilling this role.111 The head team physician holds the ultimate responsibility for the medical decisions regarding the health and wellness of the team, including injury and illness prevention, treatment, and management. The head team physician also assists in the coordination of the care of the athletes with other team medical professionals, including other team physicians, athletic trainers, and other allied health providers.

The multiorganization-derived Team Physician Consensus Statement was developed to delineate the qualifications, duties, and responsibilities of the team physician. It provides guidelines to individuals and organizations in selecting team physicians. The purpose of these delineations and guidelines is to provide a foundation for best practices in the medical care of athletes and teams. The team physician's education, training, and experience uniquely qualify him or her to provide the best medical care for the athlete.1 The team physician should manage and coordinate the medical care of the athletic team members and promote the well-being of the athlete. The team physician should be proficient in musculoskeletal injuries, common medical conditions, and psychological issues encountered in sports, as well as a fundamental knowledge of emergency care with regard to sporting events and appropriate training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).1,3,4,9

The team physician integrates personal medical expertise with a developed athletic care network of medical consultants, certified athletic trainers (ATCs), and other allied health care professionals. With the aid of the athletic care network, the team physician also educates athletes, coaches, parents/guardians, and administrators. Ultimately, the team physician is responsible for medical decisions that affect the athlete's safe participation and the clearance to participate and the return-to-play (RTP) decision.1,2,6,7

MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS AND EDUCATION

Since the primary responsibility of the team physician is to provide optimal medical care for athletes, a physician considered for this role must possess certain qualifications and education. Additional qualifications and education may be required for team physicians for some collegiate, national, ...

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