The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Stephen M. Simons, MD, FACSM, in this issue's Clinician Profile. Dr. Simons serves as associate director of the St. Joseph Medical Center Family Practice Residency. He completed his undergraduate work at Manchester College, Indiana, and earned his MD from Southern Illinois University. He currently serves as a section editor of ACSM's official clinical review journal, Current Sports Medicine Reports (CSMR), is a member of ACSM's Medical Education committee, and has been an ACSM member since 1989.
You Have Been An ACSM Member Since 1989. How Has ACSM Grown and Changed Since You Became A Member?
ACSM not only has grown in membership numbers, but it is evident over the last 22 years that ACSM also has grown professionally to influence national policy leaders, as evidenced by the recent Exercise is Medicine® campaign of which Robert E. Sallis, MD, FACSM, serves as the chair. Clinical medicine now places a premium on evidence for everything the physician does. The research emphasis provided by ACSM helps to support these best practice goals needed to practice medicine. ACSM's growth will be critical to supporting those practices.
What Was It Like To Be A Clinician In The 1980s And 1990s Compared With Today?
I recall attending my first ACSM Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City. The overwhelming feeling as a young physician was a sense that I had found a home of kindred spirits and a professional organization into which I could channel my passion for exercise and medicine. The clinician sessions in the early 1990s were very well attended. Case presentations would easily host 100 or more physicians. The panelists were well known, respected experts with inter-disciplinary skills. Today's case presentations are still staffed with excellent moderators and panelists, but attendance at any given session is much smaller. This provides more opportunities for presentations by younger physicians.
Also, I think it was easier to network with ACSM leadership in the 1980s and 1990s. Opportunities to serve ACSM occurred pretty easily. That's not to say the leadership is less approachable now, but younger physicians need to make a concerted effort to get involved with committees, presentations, policies, etc.
How Has Membership In ACSM Influenced Your Career?
I can honestly say ACSM's membership has dramatically influenced my career. Developing professional relationships with ACSM leaders provided a direct opportunity to get involved at many levels. Teaching and co-chairing the team physician course, being on the faculty for an international team physician course, and the opportunity to lecture in Madrid, Spain, were all directly linked to influential ACSM members such as William O. Roberts, MD, MS, FACSM; William W. Dexter, MD, FACSM; Lyle J. Micheli, MD, FACSM; and others.
How Do You Use The ACSM Network In Your Daily Work?
The ACSM network makes available the chance to consult with national experts in a variety of disciplines. This is a direct benefit to my patients. I have had several patients travel hundreds of miles to visit my ACSM colleagues who could provide consultation for unusual conditions. I also use the ACSM network to refer patients who are away at college or traveling to a new area. And the ACSM network is helpful to share opinions regarding specific case management or problem-focused evaluation and care.
What Is Your Best Advice To Other Sports Medicine Clinicians?
Sports medicine clinicians have a lot of time demands. Attending the ACSM Annual Meeting, reading CSMR, conferring with experts in the college, and accessing information available on the Web site can be very helpful to providing the best care for our patients. It is quite easy to repeat the same old habits in practice. ACSM's Annual Meeting provides an opportunity to learn and explore from a variety of physicians with different skill sets.
Where Do You See ACSM Heading In The Future?
I see ACSM serving an even greater role to promote exercise as critical to combat the United States' slide into greater obesity and chronic illnesses that are costing society immeasurably. Also, I perceive the researchers who are members of ACSM as serving an important role to test and validate or repudiate the barrage of products claiming health benefits, which are promoted by organizations and businesses profiting from them.