5 Questions with Dr. Jon Divine, AMSSM President

concussion

Dr. Jon Divine, in action as Team Physician for the Univ. of Cincinnati Bearcats

March is wrapping up, and that means that the annual scientific meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) is just around the corner.  That meeting has been an April highlight on our calendar for years — #AMSSM16 is taking place in Dallas, Texas April 15 – 20 .  We’ve had our tickets for months.

On a personal note, there is so much I am looking forward to — reuniting with AMSSM colleagues like Alison Brooks, Irfan Asif, Holly Benjamin and also seeing Phatho Zondi, current president of the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA), who is coming all the way from Pretoria, South Africa.  I’m looking forward to catching up, as well, with AMSSM past presidents — Jon Drezner, Chris Madden, Doug McKeag, Cindy Chang — as well the incoming president, Matt Gammons.

And there is AMSSM’s current president, whose tenure is over 95% complete and will be handing on the reins to Dr. Gammons.  That would be Jon Divine, M.D.,  Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Medical Director of the University of Cincinnati athletics.

Preparatory to the AMSSM meeting, I thought it high time CJSM sat down and interviewed the president of our affiliated society, to get a sense of what this past year has meant to him and the organization.  And so I present to you:  5 Questions, with Dr. Jon Divine.

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  1. CJSM: We have to begin by asking you about your year as President of the AMSSM. What were your major challenges this year?  What were your high points?

JD: Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share my story with your readers. This year has gone by fast. I’m very proud of the work done by our Board. Under Chris Madden we generated our third organizational strategic plan, the road map our leadership utilizes to guide the working priorities of AMSSM, with a goal of completion in 5 yrs. As of now, we’re more than half way completed on the current plan. I half-jokingly mentioned to Kathy Dec and Chad Asplund this week that they will have to seriously consider developing the next strategic plan because the objectives for the organization spelled out in the current plan will be met ahead of schedule! As president, you could not be happier than when your team is skilled and willing to take on these tasks, do them very well, and complete them ahead of schedule.

Two other moments were very special for me. At the Annual Meeting, I was able to give the Harry Galanty Research Award to Mike Donaworth. Mike was a previous sports fellow with us, who joined our faculty at UC. That was a very proud moment to make that one of my first “duties” as AMSSM president last April.

As many know our Founders had a reunion in Monterey, CA this past summer with most of their discussions videoed in order to provide our Annual Meeting attendees with a “25th Anniversary” DVD of the history of AMSSM. As a part of that weekend, my major task was to give the Founders an up-to-date overview of the current “State of AMSSM”.  It felt about like giving a parent a lecture on their kid’s accomplishments and shortcomings! I thought my presidential acceptance speech was going to be nerve-racking- nah that was nothing compared to standing in front of the Founders. After my updates, we talked a lot more about the future than the past. We talked about the trails of being a “young” and rapid growing organization. We talked about the continued challenges of leadership and the quality of communication between leaders currently being much different than when they formed AMSSM. And, we talked a lot about jobs. Jobs for our current members and jobs for the additional 150 members we add annually. We talked about ideas on how to potentially create jobs that match the broad skill sets of our members. Within the context of both jobs and the high value we offer the medical community, they emphasized the importance of remaining “true” to our primary care specialty roots. Personally, to have been involved in those discussions and to literally be a “fly on the wall” during their discussions about how they formed and developed AMSSM was a professional opportunity that few have a chance to witness and will be fond memories I will cherish.

 

  1. CJSM: How long have you worked with University of Cincinnati Athletics, and what do you enjoy most about that role?

JD: My favorite opportunity within UC Athletics is getting to know the people: the staff, coaches and most of all the student athletes.  I am in constant awe of the trust they place in myself and our other providers. When people ask, “what’s it like to take care of so&so” the real joy for me is meeting that athlete as an individual – not as a star athlete.  The public has a natural curiosity about what it’s like to have “high profile” patients; however, the second that we treat them as a “star”, or act as a “fan”, the trust they place in us as a provider evaporates. From that moment forward we’re just like every other fan. It can be a challenge for the provider to keep that in perspective. For the sports doc who can maintain the “non-fan” objective – and I think I do this well- the rewards are great because they will have a great deal of job security.

 

  1. CJSM: We follow you [@drjondivine] on Twitter and enjoy your posts. If you were to compose a 140 character tweet to tell the world about AMSSM, what would it say?

JD: “With over 3000 primary care physician members strong – AMSSM is poised to lead sports medicine into the future.”

#112 by my count!

[CJSM: Dr. Divine, you are a DEFINITE follow on Twitter!]

 

  1. CJSM: When AMSSM meets in Dallas in April, you will step down and Matt Gammons will become the President of the society. What will you do as “President Emeritus”?  Where will you plan to have your Presidential Library 🙂 ? 

JD: If I did have a library, it would be in some hyperspace, computer-cloud somewhere because almost every important document comes to me electronically – I just recently learned how to capture and insert my signature onto .pdf files! If I did have a brick & mortar presidential library it would probably be in one of two places: at my college alma mater near you, Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, or at the University of Texas at Tyler where I did my graduate work in exercise physiology- and also met & married my wife Leigh Ann 30 yrs. ago!

As Past-President I will still remain a voting –member on the 5-member AMSSM Executive Committee. All of the important decisions effecting AMSSM are run through this committee before going to the Board. But, ultimately as the President of AMSSM, the buck will stop on Matty Gammons desk. He has a good head on his shoulders and is a prime leader; he will need not much, if any, of my help next year.

That is one thing I have learned this year during my engagement in discussions with past-presidents, our previous leaders really want to remain involved in the organization. Most were very young, in their 40’s, when they were AMSSM presidents –at 53 yrs. old I’m one of the oldest to be president! One of the challenges of our young organization will be to continue to provide our past leaders with genuine and meaningful opportunities to contribute their time and talents to AMSSM- now that I’m quickly approaching membership in the AMSSM past –presidents club I can better understand their needs to remain involved.

 

  1. CJSM: You have been an author in our journal on several occasions. What are your principal research interests and do you have any projects in the works we may all see published or presented in the near future?

JD: Love CJSM, always have! The journal continues to be one of the best values for our members. In the past 2 years AMSSM leadership has made research a 1A priority. We have recently hired a new research director Stephanie Kliethermes who will specifically oversee our new AMSSM Clinical Research Network (CRN). We see Stephanie’s hire as being a huge step towards increasing the quality and amount of research generated by our organization (as the AMSSM CRN), and our members. When we talk about our mission and objectives as a medical society, bolstering out the strength of our research efforts is a huge step forward towards “leading sports medicine into the future”.

Personally, I lead a team of researchers with a broad skill set: mechanical & computer engineers, exercise physiologists, neuroscientists, physicians, athletic trainers and physical therapists, at UC interested in many topics in sports medicine. UC is a special place in which the stated goals and objectives by our campus leadership, President Santa Ono and Medical School Dean Bill Ball, for increasing cross-campus research in initiatives are matched by the incentives to complete the mission. Their support and encouragement is tremendous. Our primary focus has been to develop and review the effects of active rehabilitation on the recovery from concussion and mTBI injuries. Our group has a primary focus on identifying post-injury vision problems in order to use vision therapy as an important piece in the post-injury rehab puzzle. We are also entering into the broad area of monitoring training of our intercollegiate and club-sports athletes at UC. We want to know how much they train and take that information to predict the quality of their training and reduce the injury risks associated with relative overtraining.

Ultimately, I would love to see our efforts morph into a Sports & Exercise Science Program as a part of sports medicine mission on campus.

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Thanks Jon for your time.  We look forward to catching up with you in Dallas.  And for all of our readers, be sure to follow the hashtag #AMSSM16 on your social media accounts to stay apprised of all the action.

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About sportingjim
I work at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio USA, where I am a specialist in pediatric sports medicine. My academic appointment as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics is through Ohio State University. I am a public health advocate for kids' health and safety. I am also the Emerging Media Editor for the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

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