The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Marci A. Goolsby, MD, in this issue’s Clinician Profile. Dr. Goolsby is a primary care sports medicine physician at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, NY. She is board-certified in family medicine, with a CAQ in sports medicine. She completed her medical training at Texas A&M University Health Science Center and her residency and fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles. In her practice, she treats patients of all ages and levels with a variety of issues but focuses on running injuries, bone stress injuries, and the female athlete triad. She serves as team physician for the WNBA’s New York Liberty, which she considers a great honor, having herself been a collegiate basketball player. In addition, she was able to fulfill a dream this February by going to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, serving as team physician for the U.S. Biathlon team.
What inspired you to pursue a career in sports medicine?
Like many of us in sports medicine, I was an athlete myself (college basketball), so I was initially exposed to the field through an injury. In my studies I was fascinated by the body, especially the musculoskeletal system. I was then fortunate to spend some time during a college summer internship with Dr. Cindy Chang and said to myself, “This is who I want to be.” Although I only spent a few days with Dr. Chang, it was a very influential experience. I decided on family medicine as a primary field because I loved the idea of learning about everything. Like a classic family medicine doctor, I enjoyed all my third-year rotations.
What is the most common question you are asked as a sports medicine physician?
When can I (insert activity here)? As sports medicine physicians, I see our main job as helping to keep people moving (or get them started moving). So, when an injury occurs, I want to get them back to their activity or sport as soon as it is safe. This may require modifications or switching to a different activity for a while. I treat a fair number of runners with stress injuries, for example, and I want them to be ready when it is time to start back running; this often means resting, at least from running. This can be psychologically difficult for many athletes, so it is important to take this into account when making recommendations.
What do you find most rewarding in your current position?
Similarly, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing patients accomplish their goal. This may be winning a competition or being in less pain while dancing at their son’s wedding and everything in between.
You have been an ACSM member since 2008; how has ACSM grown and changed since you became a member?
There are so many great things about ACSM, but it has to be the variety that I love the most. It is a truly collaborative experience to be a part of ACSM and I have seen this strengthen over the years. Back at my home institution, the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), I work closely with exercise physiology, sports nutrition, sports psychology, physical therapy and physicians from primary care sports medicine, physiatry, and orthopedic surgery as part of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center. As a group, we discuss things we are learning from ACSM to further our collaborative efforts as well.
How has the membership in ACSM influenced your career?
Membership in ACSM has provided me with the tools I need to improve the quality of my patient care and introduced me to other practitioners from different fields. One of these groups is the Female Athlete Triad Coalition, a multidisciplinary group focused on research and education on the female athlete triad. My mentor at UCLA, Dr. Aurelia Nattiv, first introduced me to this group as a resident, and I have been fortunate to have developed some great professional relationships with the Triad Coalition members and others in ACSM from a variety of disciplines.
What is your best advice to other Sports Medicine clinicians?
There are two things I emphasize to those in training. One is to listen to your patients. If you let them tell you the full story at their initial visit, everything is easier from that point on. In my practice, like in many others, a lot of patients come in who have been other places and who often have had a variety of other diagnoses and treatments. If you learn to listen closely to what they say, they will often tell you what you need to know to help them. The second thing I teach is that in sports medicine, we have two jobs: the “what” and the “why.” Diagnosing the problem is only part of the solution. You also have to try to figure out why it happened and address this in the treatment plan as well. This is especially the case for stress injuries, which are a large part of my practice.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I spend time outside of work with my family. My husband, Clark, my 5-yr-old daughter, Penny, and my 2-yr-old son, Nolan, and I like to play in our new house outside New York City. Our favorite things to do are arts and crafts and dance parties. My husband and I are both music lovers with eccentric taste, so we like to expose our children to a variety of types of music. I do not know if you can count this as a hobby but I love to eat, and my husband is an amazing cook, so that works out well and, of course, there is no shortage of restaurants in New York City.
Would you like to share anything else with the readers of Current Sports Medicine Reports?
It is an honor to be a part of the editorial board of such a respected journal, and I am grateful for the opportunity.