How To Develop A Thriving Sports Medicine Practice

By Aaron Becker, Special Projects Editor

When it comes to being recognized as a true sports medicine physician, Lisa Schoene, DPM, ATC, says in order to “talk the talk, you better walk the walk.” Dr. Schoene says the best sports medicine practitioners are the ones who cover the events and are out there covering races even when it is cold and rainy or starting very early in the morning.

“Hands-on experience is imperative in my mind,” emphasizes Dr. Schoene, who has covered many marathons, triathlons and other races. “I question the physician who says he or she is a ‘sports medicine specialist’ but never volunteers to cover an event or race.”

Amol Saxena, DPM, emphasizes the importance of getting good training from qualified practitioners as he says there “is little formal coursework or rotations” in podiatric sports medicine. He suggests students take advantage of activities such as the “Sports Medicine Days” put on by the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM).

Richard Bouche, DPM, states there are a small amount of podiatric sports medicine fellowships available. He says one should consider these six- to 12-month fellowships if he or she is truly interested in pursuing further training in podiatric sports medicine.

“Students who are interested in podiatric sports medicine will have to go beyond the regular training to get exposure and experience,” maintains Dr. Saxena, who practices within the Department of Sports Medicine at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Palo Alto, Ca.

Recalling his last years of podiatric school and residency, Dr. Saxena says he actively sought out working with sports medicine gurus in other disciplines as well as podiatry. He notes that he spent time with Mark Pfeile, PT/ATC, a trainer for the Chicago Bulls; Jim Hill, MD, an orthopedist for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team; John Durkin, Jr., DPM, who was treating all the top runners in the U.S. at that time; and Rick Cullen, DPM, who was the team podiatrist for the Boston Celtics. During this time, Dr. Saxena also volunteered for a local high school’s athletic department.

He also cites sports medicine orthopedists Fred Behling, MD and Gordy Campbell, MD, with whom he spent some time during his fourth year in podiatry school, as well as his mentor and residency director John Grady, DPM, with his development in the sports medicine arena.

“It is easy to say you want something but when it is not part of the standard path, you have to go out of your way to get it,” notes Dr. Saxena, a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) and the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Doug Richie Jr., DPM, says “a lot of self-directed study” and working with other clinicians who are skilled in this area are keys to developing a comprehensive knowledge of your specialty as it relates to athletic injuries.

Dr. Bouche encourages sports medicine podiatrists to keep up with CME activities in order to stay sharp and on top of all that is new in the field. Dr. Saxena encourages practicing podiatrists and students to read sports medicine/orthopedic journals such as the

American Journal of Sports Medicine and the Journal of Orthopedics and Sports Physical Therapy in addition to peer-reviewed journals dealing with the foot and ankle such as the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, Foot and Ankle International and the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Building A Reputation
When he first started out in practice Dr. Richie recalls giving community lectures at running and cycling clubs as well as specialty running shoe stores on topics related to the prevention of sports-related injuries. Dr. Bouche and Brian Fullem, DPM, have also lectured to local running groups. Dr. Fullem speaks at a couple of high school running camps in the summer and now helps run such a camp ( in Connecticut. In addition to lecturing to running groups, Dr. Schoene lectures to dance and physical therapy groups.

In addition to working World Cup soccer games, lacrosse tournaments, semi-professional football games and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Dr. Schoene volunteers her time at professional ballet/dance companies and has done so for many years.

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