The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, FACSM, in this issue’s Clinician Profile. Dr. Casa earned his Bachelor’s degree in biology from Allegheny College in 1990; his Master’s degree in athletic training from the University of Florida in 1993; and his Doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Connecticut in 1997. He has worked toward his goal of preventing sudden death in sport at the Department of Kinesiology, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, for the past 14 years. During this time, he has published more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and presented more than 300 times on subjects related to exertional heat stroke, heat-related illnesses, prevention of sudden death in sport, and hydration. Additionally he has served as an editor of ACSM’s Sports Medicine: A Comprehensive Review text book and the editor of Preventing Sudden Death in Sport and Physical Activity, published in cooperation with ACSM. He has been a fellow of ACSM since 2001 and currently serves on the Editorial Board for Current Sports Medicine Reports. He has been a lead or coauthor on numerous sports medicine position statements related to heat illness and hydration.
You Have Been an ACSM Member Since 1991. How Has ACSM Grown and Changed since you Became a Member?
ACSM has become the cornerstone of the sports medicine profession. While specific groups have outstanding subdiscipline organizations (National Athletic Trainers’ Association, American Medical Society of Sports Medicine, and National Strength and Conditioning Association come to mind), ACSM is the one organization that brings the whole sports medicine team together in one place. That is what I love most about being a member and attending its Annual Meetings. This is something that I have noticed has continued to be strengthened.
What Was It Like to Be a Professor/Researcher a Decade or Two Ago Compared to Today?
It is so much more competitive from a grant and publication perspective. It requires even more emphasis on training, preparation, and being nimble to navigate the ever-changing landscape. Many of the journals now accept at lower than 10%, and most grants are less than 5%. A positive attitude and thick skin is required to take the criticism and learn from it and improve for the future. The evolution of PubMed also makes it wonderfully easier to access info that you need in seconds and also makes you realize that an article does not have to be published in one of the top five journals to have great influence and impact. You can publish in a respected journal and have it available to all your peers.
How Has Membership in ACSM Influenced Your Career?
The greatest strength of ACSM is the influence it can bestow to make sports safer for all levels of participants. ACSM has taken a very active role with advocacy and policy initiatives that make me proud to be a member. I have been fortunate to be a part of some of these efforts and look forward to continued contributions in the future. The membership of ACSM is an incredible assortment of passionate and intelligent people that allows me and others to constantly learn and grow from being a part of this dynamic group of people. I feel I can contribute even more to the ACSM mission through my connections and experiences in the policy arena. I have had the good fortune to be closely involved with the overhaul of many organizations and state high school athletic associations’ policies and procedures related to health and safety issues. I am the chief operating officer of the Korey Stringer Institute, and in this role, I am closely connected with the frontline of athlete safety issues.
How Do You Use the ACSM Network in Your Daily Work?
Nearly all of the key contacts in my career I have developed through ACSM and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Many are in both. The connectivity has been extremely valuable and fun. Additionally another great advantage is the benefit to my students who get to become part of these massive linkages across the country and internationally.
What Is Your Best Advice to Other Sports Medicine Professionals?
Stay extremely positive in everything you do. No matter what hurdles or frustrations, you need to keep moving forward. The policy changes, research advancements, education, students mentored, etc. will all help to create positive momentum and get you through the tough times.
Where Do You See ACSM Heading in the Future?
I see ACSM leading the way regarding the role exercise has on health. We have trapped ourselves into thinking that great medical care is the treatment of medical conditions. This has led us down a path that has created a society of some really smart medical professionals with some outstanding technology, but with people who are generally quite unhealthy. ACSM needs to continue the push for reform in this area. The best medical care may actually be before the person gets sick or injured or develops a condition. The fact that our country spends more per person on medical care than any country in the world, but does not see the benefit in terms of life expectancy concomitant with the investment, tells us that maybe we need to direct our efforts toward other avenues. Exercise is Medicine® is a mantra for change.
Would You Like to Share Anything Else with the Readers of Current Sports Medicine Reports?
I have been lucky to have some great mentors. Carl Maresh, PhD, FACSM, the department head at the University of Connecticut for 14 years of my professorship, got me to understand completely the role of collaboration. We cannot act as silos in what we do; we must bring our collective expertise to the table and move the entire unit forward together. The general theme is valuable for the members of ACSM. We can do more working together and pooling our resources than we can do acting as individual agents. As my role as COO of the Korey Stringer Institute, I have tried to embed this philosophy into everything we do. We are simply the conduits for progress regarding research, education, policy changes, etc. The extent of our success is limited only by the influence we have in getting the vested parties involved and committed.