The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is proud to feature Tracy R. Ray, MD, FACSM, in this issue’s Clinician Profile. Dr. Ray is an associate professor in the Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Family Medicine at Duke University. He directs the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, serves as a Team Physician with Duke Athletics and supervises the outreach program to multiple local high schools. Dr. Ray has previously served on the Board of Trustees for the American College of Sports Medicine and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. He is board certified in Family Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and completed his Family Medicine residency training at the College of Community Health at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. He completed his medical training with a fellowship in Sports Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH.
What inspired you to pursue a career in sports medicine?
I am afraid that my motivation is not unique. Through undergrad and medical school, I came to appreciate the idea that I could combine my enjoyment of sports and an active lifestyle with my desire to serve the same demographic with medical care. As I pursued the discipline, I found others with my same passion and they seemed very satisfied in their careers.
What is the most common question you are asked as a sports medicine physician?
“What exactly does a ‘sports medicine doctor’ do?” And it is a difficult question to answer because it requires giving a very detailed answer that may not adequately answer the question. Many sports physicians perform so many roles and there is great variety in how each of us practice in varied settings.
What do you find most rewarding in your current position?
As a fellowship director and team physician, I feel most rewarded in teaching less experienced learners and providing care to teams. I enjoy the passing on of my knowledge and experience and getting the satisfaction of being part of something that is bigger than myself. Our field is still very young, and it has been very exciting to see it develop so rapidly during my career.
You have been an ACSM member since 1994. How has ACSM grown and changed since you became a member?
The organization and its reach into so many disciplines within sports medicine has always been one of ACSM’s strengths and that is one of the reasons I have remained involved with the organization. Watching the organization grow in size and influence during those nearly 25 years and feeling that I have had some small role in that growth is very satisfying.
How has membership in ACSM influenced your career?
I believe that it has allowed me to work with others outside of the PCSM field and to embrace the “team” approach to the care of active patients from a multidisciplinary approach. Having colleagues in other related disciplines has afforded me a level of understanding and cooperation I do not believe I would have had without the relationships I have made through ACSM.
What is your best advice to other Sports Medicine clinicians?
Find a work environment that brings you joy. Let your passion move you to hard work so as to command the understanding needed to be outstanding at what you do. Work with people who make you better than you would be without them. Decide to enjoy the parts of the job that are required, not just the parts of the work that you like.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Most of my time outside of my career is spent with my family. We love to laugh, eat, travel, worship together, and just be with one another. I think that I am happiest when I am doing something outdoors — tennis, golf, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, or just splitting wood in the back yard.