The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Steven D. Stovitz, MD, MS, FACSM, in this issue’s Clinician Profile. He is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. After completing residency in Family Medicine in 1996, he continued to work at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence, MA. In 2000, he completed a Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and subsequently joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota. He is now a team physician for the university’s athletics department and associate director of the university’s sports medicine fellowship. In 2010, Dr. Stovitz earned a master’s degree in clinical research. His primary area of research is in the field of pediatric obesity. He is a fellow of the ACSM and a senior associate editor at the British Journal of Sports Medicine. He currently serves on the ACSM’s Exercise is Medicine® Education Committee and the Research Review Committee.
You Have Been an ACSM Member since 1996. How Has ACSM Grown and Changed since You Became a Member?
Over the past 15 years, ACSM has done a fabulous job supporting researchers, especially in the study of physical activity, and then promoting public health messages to encourage physically active lifestyles. In the 1990s, I was working at a community health center that cared for a population with lower than average economic means. Leisure-time physical activity was not a priority for most of the patients, and I found that the field of sports medicine had little to offer me. Partly due to the leadership of ACSM, the field of sports medicine now readily has a place for those working in a variety of health care settings. Sports medicine is no longer viewed as only for those participating in competitive sports. Rather, ACSM has championed the benefits of lifestyle physical activity for all. ACSM publications and presentations now highlight the need to avoid sedentary behaviors as much as the need to properly treat sports-related injuries. Nowhere is this more evident than in the campaign to promote the idea that Exercise is Medicine®.
What Was It Like to Be a Clinician a Decade or Two Ago Compared to Today?
For me, not much has changed as far as being a clinician. I have always worked at either community health centers or academic health centers, but never in private practice. I try to uphold the principles of medical professionalism and avoid (to the best of my ability) the ebbs and flows of the U.S. health care system. The health care system is beginning to promote physical activity and prevention in primary care settings, as I have been doing in the office for many years, and ACSM is playing a role in that transition.
How Has Membership in ACSM Influenced Your Career?
ACSM membership has influenced my career by connecting me with a large network of collaborators and friends. As a clinical researcher who enjoys discussing ideas with those in the fields of kinesiology and epidemiology, both in the United States and abroad, ACSM has served as my professional home. Through ACSM, I have a link to the very best sports medicine clinicians and research scientists. When my family went on sabbatical in Costa Rica, it was through ACSM that I met their leader in Exercise is Medicine® (Felipe Araya, PhD), and I was able to present at a Costa Rican conference along with ACSM past presidents Barry A. Franklin, PhD, FACSM, and J. Larry Durstine, PhD, FACSM. What a treat!
How Do You Use the ACSM Network in Your Daily Work?
First, during my clinical times, I utilize ACSM-like research for both musculoskeletal issues and issues related to energy expenditure. I am currently in the midst of establishing a weight management program based on dietary behaviors and the principles of Exercise is Medicine®. During my nonclinical time, I collaborate on research projects related to obesity and/or sports epidemiology with other members of ACSM. Finally, I use many of the tenets of ACSM in my personal life, for example, writing the answers to these questions from a standing desk.
What Is Your Best Advice to Other Sports Medicine Clinicians?
Stay curious. Curiosity keeps us out of ruts. And reach out to those in the field of sports medicine who are not clinicians, i.e., community partners and researchers. I would say the same to researchers. Please reach out to clinicians. We tend to emphasize the differences between research and clinical life, but really, there are many similarities. In both research and clinical duties, we should be seeking answers to questions and not just going through the motions.
Where Do You See ACSM Heading in the Future?
Given the epidemic of sedentary lifestyles, I see ACSM well positioned to be a world leader in the promotion of active lifestyles. I imagine that this may include both more work in the basic science and also advocacy toward issues such as city planning and healthy built environments. As a clinician, I also would like to see ACSM expand its focus on clinical sports medicine in both nonsurgical and surgical arenas.