This month's American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) Clinician Profile features Robert J. Johnson, M.D., FACSM, who is the co-director of the Hennepin County Medical Center's Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. Dr. Johnson also teaches sports medicine electives for medical students and precepts residents in an inpatient setting. He has been an ACSM member since 1979 and is the past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (2003-2004).
YOU HAVE BEEN AN ACSM MEMBER SINCE 1979. HOW HAS ACSM GROWN AND CHANGED SINCE YOU BECAME A MEMBER?
Obviously, the size of the organization and the number of attendees at the Annual Meeting are the most visible signs of change. In that context, then, the breadth of expertise and interest groups has expanded and improved the capabilities and content of the scientific meetings and publications. Programs such as ACSM's Team Physician™ Course, Advanced Team Physician Course, and ACSM's International Team Physician Course have complemented our scientific meetings to increase ACSM's exposure within clinical sports medicine. The size of the Annual Meeting also has limited the site options for that meeting. A large membership base has permitted a louder voice politically to push a platform of exercise and physical activity. The economics of size have allowed a larger pool of funds and awards to stimulate research and education. These are just a few, but not all, of the significant changes I have witnessed during my 30 years of ACSM membership.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE A CLINICIAN IN THE 1970s AND 1980s COMPARED WITH TODAY?
The three most significant changes comparing a clinical practice in the 1970s and 1980s and today are:
- There was a greater reliance on history and physical exam to arrive at a diagnosis because of the lack of the technology that we have today. With that limitation, tradition and experience guided most clinical decisions because of the lack of science to support our decision-making.
- There was a lack of formal sports medicine education as a guide to treat the injured athlete.
- Because of the relatively lower cost of illness and injury care, there were fewer insurance restrictions (e.g., prior authorizations) interfering with the delivery of care.
Most of the changes seen today are of benefit to our athletes: more science, better technology in diagnosing and treating injuries, and volumes of science supporting the value of physical activity and exercise.
HOW HAS MEMBERSHIP IN ACSM INFLUENCED YOUR CAREER?
In my early years of membership, I had an opportunity to learn from the experts. As I grew professionally, ACSM afforded me an opportunity to network with like-minded clinicians. Over the years, I was able to participate more actively in committee work, in presentations, and on the Board of Trustees to repay my early education debt. It also afforded me participation and leadership opportunities in my regional chapter. Personally and professionally, I have benefited from the sports medicine relationships resulting from my ACSM membership.
HOW DO YOU USE THE ACSM NETWORK IN YOUR DAILY WORK?
ACSM is of daily benefit from the online resources for my clinical and teaching activities. The personal networking has afforded me a wide range of members for personal and professional advice and consultation. Without those personal benefits, I'm not sure I ever would have found my "ideal" professional situation.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE TO OTHER SPORTS MEDICINE CLINICIANS?
Sports medicine is a dynamic field with a dynamically developing clinical science. Accepting that statement, then, it is imperative for sports medicine clinicians to continue to participate actively in sports medicine organizations to continue expanding their knowledge base to stay at the leading clinical edge of diagnosis and treatment for our active population. Today's standard of care is not necessarily tomorrow's standard of care.
WHERE DO YOU SEE ACSM HEADING IN THE FUTURE?
My hope for ACSM's future is that it continues to be a leader in promoting exercise and remains at the leading edge of science for sport and education for all professionals involved in sports and exercise medicine. With continued growth, the challenge will be to contribute to all those with a stake in exercise and sports injuries, leaving no constituents behind.