The American College of Sports Medicine is proud to feature Margo Mountjoy, MD, PhD, CCFP, FCFP, FACSM, Dip Sport Med., in this issue's Clinician Profile. Dr. Mountjoy is an associate clinical professor in the faculty of Family Medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, where she teaches Sports Medicine and is the regional assistant dean of Waterloo Regional Campus. She has been a community Sports Medicine physician in the Health & Performance Centre at the University of Guelph since 1988, where her practice has focused on promoting elite athlete care and physical activity promotion in the general population. In addition, Dr. Mountjoy has acted as the national team physician for Synchro Canada for 20 years, for the National Endurance Training Centre Athletes (middle- and long-distance track athletes), and the National Triathlon & Wrestling team training centers. She is a member of the FINA Executive Board and holds the portfolio of Sports Medicine. She is chair of the ASOIF Medical Consultative Group, a member of the IOC Medical Commission Games Group, and the WADA Health Medicine and Research Committee. She is a member of the TUE committees of the Olympic Games (International Testing Agency), the CCES (Canadian NADO), and the USADA and World Rugby Anti-Doping Review Boards. She collaborated with the World Health Organization on both the Global Action Plan for the promotion of Physical Activity (GAPPA), as well as the Drowning Prevention initiative. Her areas of research focus on elite athlete health and safety.
What inspired you to pursue a career in sports medicine?
As I was an international level athlete (synchronized swimming), I have a passion for the values and principles of Olympism that sport offers for the benefit of individuals. I also saw a great need to advocate and care for elite athletes and to promote sport for health. I was motivated by both this inner passion for sport from my own sport career and for the vast need for advancement of sports medicine for the elite and in the prevention of noncommunicable disease.
What is the most common question you are asked as a sports medicine physician?
I have been asked many questions in my career — and these differ depending on the source of the question! Athletes commonly have one question: “When can I get back to my sport?” Sport physicians have a different focus: “How did you shape your career?” Sport politicians have another question: “How can sports medicine/science improve my sport?” I think the most important question that we can pose as sports medicine professionals is: “What can we do as sports medicine physicians to improve the safety and quality of life at the individual, and very importantly, at the systems level (club, region, national, and international)?”
What do you find most rewarding in your current position?
I find the most rewarding part of my career is to hear the athlete stories that show me that my work has made a difference or influenced change. For example, an athlete recently told me of a web site that exists to support athletes with RED-s, where I read of athletes who were getting care as a result of our pioneering work in this field. I also recently learned of a new harassment + abuse reporting mechanism in an Asian country that would not have existed if it had not been for the IOC consensus statements I chaired on this topic. Clinically, helping individuals either remain active or achieve their athletic goals is an important and cherished daily reward!
You have been an ACSM member since 2007. How has ACSM grown and changed since you became a member?
In the past decade, I have seen a change in focus of ACSM to address and be responsive to the health of communities with the Exercise is Medicine® campaign. I worked for the World Health Organization on an invited consultative task force to develop the Global Action Plan for Physical Activity Promotion (GAPPA). This work, along with the ACSM campaign, are instrumental in motivating political change to decrease physical inactivity levels and thus to improve life quality and quantity. I commend ACSM for this vision, and I hope that ACSM will employ similar efforts in the future to address two other overlooked and important aspects of sports medicine: athlete mental health and athlete safeguarding: safe sport (prevention of harassment + abuse).
How has membership in ACSM influenced your career?
ACSM membership has enabled me to network and collaborate with colleagues from the United States and from around the world. It also provides a forum for dissemination of work to a large audience of athlete health care professionals who work at the grassroots level. ACSM's Annual Meeting provides a valuable opportunity for information exchange and for influencing behaviors that can improve athlete quality of health, longevity in sport, and ultimately, sport performance.
What is your best advice to other sports medicine clinicians?
My advice to sports medicine clinicians is simple: “Be athlete focused!” If we keep foremost in our mind that athletes are human beings with unique health needs, then we can ensure that our care is ethical and free from external pressures and other confounding biases that are present in sport. Remembering in our practices and research that what we do affects the life and well-being of one individual, and that our impact can be long-lasting and far-reaching. With this focus, we can ensure that our actions are efficacious and altruistic.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy life! Staying fit and active, reading, sharing fun times with family and friends, and of course — traveling. As a dean in a medical school, I am a strong proponent of work-life balance and being well-rounded as a means to a long, happy, and effective career in medicine. A healthy physician is one who provides better and more effective care. I try to practice what I preach in my daily life!
Would you like to share anything else with the readers of Current Sports Medicine Reports?
I would like to thank the readers of Current Sports Medicine Reports for taking the time and effort to be evidence-based, and to embrace lifelong learning through reading this journal! As the science in sports medicine/sports science evolves, keeping current and striving to practice in an evidence-based manner results in an improved quality of care.