Team Doctor: Not Bad Work If You Can Get It
This article is copyright free and is published in Career Management » Careers
As far as doctor jobs go, being the head physician for professional sports team is a great opportunity -- especially if you happen to love the sport your team is involved in. You have the opportunity to go to all the teams games, help athletes be the best they can be, and practice medicine all the same time. It sounds like the ultimate dream job for the wannabe jock that ends up going to medical school because he couldn't win a sports scholarship.
Combining Sports and Private Practice
The only thing about doctor jobs with sports teams is that they typically are not full-time endeavors that pay the high salaries physicians are expecting. So almost all sports doctors operate private practices in the communities where the teams are located. The doctor is part of the sports team's medical staff, and draws a salary as such; he can take fewer patients in his private practice and be a bit more flexible.
If that doctor wants a larger practice he could also take on partners, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to help lighten the load. He could be very selective about the patients he wants to see so that he is free to meet his obligations to the team. For the doctor who loves sports it sure beats a large group practice, the emergency room, or a teaching position.
The Challenges of Sports Medicine
One of the things Dr. Craig and other sports physicians love about their unique doctor jobs are the challenges that come with sports medicine. For example, Dr. Craig tells the story of one of his players who got rather sick just prior to a very important game. Craig had him hooked up to an IV as they drove from the emergency room to the arena, hoping he could play when they got there. According to Craig he played one of his best games of the season.
The sports team physician also gets his share of sprained ankles, broken bones, torn tendons and ligaments, and various cuts and abrasions. There are always issues, so he has to be pretty competent in primary care and internal medicine. But as Dr. Craig said in one of his parting interviews, working for the Phoenix Suns was one of those doctor jobs that doesn't come along very often.
After 26 years as part of the Phoenix Suns medical staff, team doctor Craig Phelps recently announced he would be leaving that position, and his Phoenix practice, in order to take a president's position at a medical school in Missouri. Asked about his experiences with the professional NBA team Dr. Phelps spoke glowingly of the opportunity, all the great players he had met through the years, and the joy of being involved in professional sports medicine. Reading his interview causes one thought to come to mind: nice work if you can get it.
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