Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
Within sports medicine, involvement in team care is a very rewarding yet challenging experience. Working alongside other clinicians and disciplines enables individuals to build upon their own skills and translate this into their everyday practice. Working with athletes on a regular basis helps the clinician to understand the psychological pressures placed upon them and appreciate the physical demands of the particular sport.
Clinicians working in a team environment must adapt and fit into the ‘team chemistry’. This involves adhering to team rules and customs while appreciating that the clinician is a small cog in a very large wheel, where the players and the coach are the key people.1 To be accepted by the coaches, athletes and other members of the medical team, the clinician needs to be in regular attendance during training sessions and competition. This in return offers the relatively unique opportunity to closely observe and understand mechanisms of injury before monitoring the progress of these injuries during rehabilitation.
Travelling with a team presents the sports medicine clinician with a considerable challenge.2 In order to provide quality medical support on the road, clinicians must be flexible, innovative and fulfil a number of roles, as not all members of the medical team will be able to travel and less equipment will be available. Travelling with a team often involves working long hours in less than ideal conditions with sportspeople and coaches who are under great stress due to the demands of competition and travel.3 Nonetheless, travelling with a team is fun, a great opportunity to learn, and offers the chance to broaden your horizons by seeing the world.
The size and make-up of the medical support team often depends on the size of the sporting team, the competition standard and financial considerations. Frequently, the support team will consist of just one individual, who may be a physiotherapist, physician, massage therapist or trainer. Specialists from various branches of medicine can contribute to the sports and exercise medicine (SEM) team.4, 5, 6 It is imperative that a solo clinician develops a network of colleagues who can assist where additional specialised management is indicated. Not all members of the medical support team will be remunerated and the ethical issues facing professional teams’ clinicians are slightly different from those of volunteer clinicians’.7, 8, 9, 10
KEY ATTRIBUTES OF A SUCCESSFUL MEDICAL TEAM
In order to add value to athletes, the medical team often consists of representatives from different health disciplines. In an ideal scenario, the professional sporting team should have access to the services of an SEM physician, physiotherapist, massage therapist, podiatrist, dietitian, psychologist, orthopaedic surgeon, cardiologist and sports trainer as well as the coaching, ...