The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Nailah Coleman, MD, FAAP, FACSM, in this issue’s Clinician Profile. Dr. Coleman is a pediatric attending at Children’s National Health System. She completed her undergraduate studies at Emory University, receiving a BS in Biology, with a double major in International Studies and a minor in Italian, and received her medical degree there in 2000. After completing a pediatric residency program at Children’s National Medical Center in 2003, she remained there as a physician analyst with their IT department, gaining helpful IT troubleshooting skills and broadening her ability to evaluate a situation from multiple viewpoints and to apply a variety of solutions. Dr. Coleman also worked as a hospitalist for incoming patients, a practicing physician in the Children’s Health Clinic, and an on-call neonatal pediatrician at The George Washington University Medical Center. As a pediatrician working in four different hospital environments, Dr. Coleman had the opportunity to see children at different life stages and assess their growth and wellness. Appreciating the need to improve the health of the athletic and nonathletic student throughout their lifespan, Dr. Coleman completed a 1-yr fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine. With sports medicine, she extended her capacity to care for a patient beyond the walls of a hospital and clinic and onto the sports field and court, increasing her understanding of the importance of advocating for public health issues and improving systems-based care. Dr. Coleman is a board-certified pediatrician and sports medicine physician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and a member of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine.
What inspired you to pursue a career in sports medicine?
I have always wanted to be a pediatrician; however, after residency, when I had finally become a pediatrician, I was left wondering, “Now what?” Fortunately, I detoured into a position as an analyst in our IT department, which gave me exposure to the entire hospital’s systems, experience in the design and implementation of an EMR, and time to participate in hospital teaching sessions, including our weekly case conference. One day, while enjoying the lunch served at the conference—typically pizza—and listening to the expert physician, a pediatric sports physician, I instantly thought, “I want to do that!” I met with her later that week and applied for fellowships within the month.
I have since realized that there were many signs that I would have an interest in sports medicine. I played a variety of sports throughout my life and I continue to be an active adult. I was always interested in what happened to the injured athlete on the field, even as a little child, watching the team run out to help a downed athlete—it was usually the only part of the game I watched. I also enjoyed working in the emergency department and participating on the trauma surgery service in medical school. With sports medicine, I can combine my love of medicine with my interests in sports and exercise.
What is the most common question you are asked as a sports medicine physician?
Most common question: Are you an orthopedist? Most common comment: People often say they never really thought of kids needing to see a sports physician.
What do you find most rewarding in your current position?
Working with patients and families to help them all live healthy, active, and fulfilling lives.
You have been an ACSM member since 2005. How has ACSM grown and changed since you became a member?
ACSM has become an increasingly diverse organization and actively seeks to support its members' needs and concerns.
How has membership in ACSM influenced your career?
ACSM has helped to improve my clinical skills and knowledge and has become an important part of my network of colleagues and friends.
What is your best advice to other Sports Medicine clinicians?
Be open and ready for serendipity.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Reading (just finished Get Lucky by Thor Muller and Lane Becker, about planned serendipity), watching movies, dancing (love to swing dance), running, yoga, cooking, going out to dinner, going to museums, exploring a new area.
Would you like to share anything else with the readers of Current Sports Medicine Reports?
I feel blessed to be a part of ACSM and seek to support its mission.