Excerpted from Chapter 2
Vetting and Choosing Your Doctor
Here are my top-ten criteria for determining a legitimate and effective Sports Medicine clinic:
1. Primary Sports Medicine providers possess, at minimum, an MD or DO. They should also have completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship after Residency training, and they should be Board Certified, usually by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) with a Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in Sports Medicine from the same board (ABFM). This title requires the Sports Medicine Fellowship. It also requires passing the Family Medicine Board examination and the Sports Medicine Board examination and is therefore the same thing as Board Certified in Sports Medicine. Alternatively, Sports Medicine practitioners may be Board Certified in Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, provided they also have full Fellowship training and accreditation in Sports Medicine. Why is that important? It’s important because Sports Medicine is a Medicare-recognized medical specialty, and therefore no person who does not meet criteria for the specialty should declare herself or himself to have a Sports Medicine practice. Under such circumstances, it would be more appropriate to say that this person has an interest in Sports Medicine, but not possessing all required credentials.
2. In a legitimate Sports Medicine clinic, you will invariably notice that certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs) are part of the staff in clinic, as well as away on the field or court, and that physical therapists (usually DPTs) are in close proximity.
3. From time to time, you will notice that your Sports Medicine doctor observing how you perform functional tasks, such as walking, running on a treadmill, throwing a ball, simulating a volleyball approach-jump, or whatever else may apply to you specifically.
4. It is a significant advantage if the Sports Medicine doctor has taken the time and put forth the effort and the money into becoming an expert in ultrasound. This requires a good deal of training. It also requires an investment to have an ultrasound onsite, and it should be used several times a day—not just for injections but also for diagnostic purposes such as, for example, being able to see whether a rotator cuff or other tendon is torn or partially torn.
5. In a legitimate Sports Medicine clinic, an X-ray should also be onsite, or, at most, just steps away.
6. You will also notice that the Sports Medicine physician is an expert in reading the actual images of X-rays, CT scans and MRIs of all musculoskeletal structures, as against strict reliance upon the Radiology reports written by other doctors.
7. It is advantageous as well if the Sports Medicine physician has a history of being a team physician, for at least one or more schools for a non-trivial period of time.
8. The Sports Medicine physician should keep continuously educated and abreast of collagen science and cellular science related to musculoskeletal conditions.
9. The Sports Medicine physician should have rapid access and professional relationships with local orthopaedic surgeons.
10. In a legitimate Sports Medicine clinic, the Sports Medicine physician possesses all the previously discussed credentials—but more than that: she or he genuinely cares about you and your injury or ailment and the reasons for your visit. In short, the good Sports Medicine doctor is laser-focused. The goals is that you Get Better Faster. And typically, she or he has social proof through organic reviews and testimonials from prior patients.
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“The real secret of Dr. Abrahamson’s diagnostic power is found in this fact: he listens to each patient, and because of this he hears what each patient is saying. The good physician starts from the premise that what the patient is telling her or him is true – there is organic pathology.”
— Ray Harvey, author of Whiskey Wisdom: the Art of Being Interesting and Reservation Trash & the White Rose: the Remarkable Story of a Navajo Runner