Sports medicine: a career for all genders?

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Dawn Thompson, covering Brighton Marathon

I am pleased to step aside from writing for the blog today and turn over the stage to Dawn Thompson, CJSM Junior Associate Editor and a member of the ECOSEP Junior Doctors Committee.

Dawn and I have a shared background in sports medicine, but she brings a unique perspective to today’s post:  she is a woman, she is young, and she is still in training.  I am none of these things!

If sports is a mirror of society, then it should come as no surprise that in our own professional world we may see phenomena such as gender bias.   And for those of us who benefit from male privilege (me), Dawn’s post is a great reminder of the differential burden our female colleagues may face when trying to perform the same job duties as a man.

Here in the USA, 2016 is a particularly poignant moment in time: the Democratic party’s presumptive candidate for president is Hillary Clinton.  Will that political ‘glass ceiling’ be shattered?  What of our sports medicine colleagues who are women?  Do they face their own glass ceilings?

I cede the dais to Dawn:

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DT: It’s 1.30am on a Tuesday morning and I am wide awake. Ideas, thoughts, concepts are racing through my mind at a rate I could only dream of during normal hours. I don’t normally suffer with insomnia but I have just completed a particularly gruelling acute medical block whereby in 4 months I have worked 8 full weekends and a total of 32 nights. So as you can see my body clock is totally up the spout. There have been times when I have wondered why I chose this profession and how compatible it is with any sort of family or social life and times when I have marveled at what I feel can be the best ‘job’ in the world.

During these 4 months, Junior Doctors like myself across Britain have taken part in 6 days of industrial action in response to the proposed imposition of a contract they felt to be unsafe and unfair to patients, themselves and the NHS. One of the many complaints with regards to the new contract was the impact it could potentially have on women taking time out for maternity or to work less than full-time to raise a family. Indeed the governments own equality analysis summarised –

“While there are features of the new contract that impact disproportionately on women, of which some we expect to be advantageous and others disadvantageous, we do not consider that this would amount to indirect discrimination as the impacts can be comfortably justified” 

I have never particularly considered myself a feminist but I do expect a fair contract and I don’t expect to be treated any differently to my male counterparts based on gender rather than clinical acumen.

Data derived from the Health and Social Care Annual Workforce Publication 2014 showed that 57% of all doctors in training are female.  However things have not always been this way, in 1985 the year I was born, women made up only 16% of practicing doctors in the US. Some junior doctors are concerned that an unfair contract would send us backwards in terms of women in Medicine.  Already prior to this new proposed contract, pay inequalities exist in medicine.  A study published this week in the BMJ concluded that women doctors in the US earn less than their male counterparts even after adjusting for hours of work and specialty.

So what about the role of women in Sports Medicine? Read more of this post

CJSM Podcast 14 — Turf vs. Grass & Girls Soccer

jsm-podcast-bg-1Our newest podcast release profiles a study published in our May 2016 CJSM: Shoe and Field Surface Risk Factors for Acute Lower Extremity Injuries Among Female Youth Soccer Players. Our guest on the podcast is the lead author of the study, John O’Kane M.D., the Head Team Physician for the University of Washington and the Bob and Sally Behnke Endowed Professor for the Health of the Student Athlete.

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Dr. John O’Kane (L), soccer-playing daughter Katie (C), and wife Betsy (R), on grass….in Phoenix AZ

We hope you enjoy the conversation with Dr. O’Kane as much as we did.  We gained insight into the findings presented in the paper and had a fruitful discussion on some of the nuances of the endless debate:  turf vs. grass, which is the preferred surface on which to play soccer? Along the way we chatted about the recent controversies in the 2016 Women’s Soccer World Cup, as well as the impact on pubertal development as an intrinsic risk factor for injury in sport….and more!

Listen in — you can find the podcast on iTunes or on our home page.  As ever, let us know what you think — in the comment section below, or on Twitter @cjsmonline

 

 

 

May Day

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CJSM: bringing you clinical sports and exercise medicine research, from around the globe

Whether you are celebrating today as International Workers’ Day, running around a May pole, or watching Leicester City try to complete the 5000:1 shot of winning the Premiership, we are sure that today, May 1, can only be a good day:  our third issue of the year has just published.  And this May Day CJSM is full of offerings we’re sure will be of  interest to you.

Two of the articles have a special focus on physical activity as an intervention for medical conditions — one is a meta-analysis from Chinese colleagues finding a protective effect for physical activity against lung cancer, and the other is a prospective, single-blinded, randomized clinical trial looking at rock climbing as an intervention in the treatment of low back pain. This study is from Austria, and had positive findings for dependent measures of disability (the Oswestry Disability Index), a physical examination maneuver, and even the extent of disc protrusion on MRI.  We’re proud to publish these high quality studies from across the globe.

We are also proud to contribute to the growing body of literature on the effectiveness of “Exercise is Medicine.” Read more of this post

A Sharapova Moment

The world of sports medicine is never boring, but who knew things could get this interesting?

In the first weeks of March, there have been at least two major stories that have transcended the borders of ‘sports medicine’ and become topics of debate for the world at large — I speak of the proposed ban on tackling in schoolboy rugby (and the continued debate on tackling in American football) and Maria Sharapova’s admission that she failed a drug test at the recent Australian Open.  For both stories, the boundaries of the discussion have gone well beyond the lines of the playing fields and the walls of the academy.

Social media has seen these topics trending. The mainstream media have been profiling the issues as well.  The Economist weighed in on the debate about tackling. And this morning I found the New York Times prominently featuring Ms. Sharapova’s story, including articles on the drug meldonium [for which Sharapova tested positive] and on the issue of the World Anti-doping Agency’s (WADA) use of emails to notify individuals about changes on WADA’s banned substance list.

Many people have an opinion on the subjects.   We’ve been running a poll on this blog regarding the issue of tackling, while our friends at the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) have been running a Twitter poll on the Sharapova issue: who is responsible, the player or her support staff [currently the poll is 74%/26% stating it’s the athlete’s responsibility].

In the New York Times article and in the BBC, former WADA-president Dick Pound has stated his opinion that Sharapova’s failed drug test was ‘reckless beyond description.’

I must say I take issue with this and empathize with Ms. Sharapova, who stated that she received in December the WADA email noting that meldonium was now on the banned substance list, but “…I did not look at that list.”  Meldonium was a PED legal until 2016, when it was placed on the ‘banned substances list.’ As a professional inundated with emails, alerts, pronouncements, and more, I confess to a certain degree of information overload even when it comes even to items vital to my licensure and ability to practice.  Have I ever received an email from the Medical Board that I have deleted?  Have I ever received notification from my hospital staff office of some new change in policy which I glossed over?  Yes and yes.

Regarding the WADA emails, other athletes in the NY Times article have offered this opinion: “Some dismissed the messages as irrelevant to their own regimens or too complicated to be useful.”  That certainly resonates with me and my professional world.

I am not writing this to absolve Ms. Sharapova, and I applaud her for her prompt and open admission of personal responsibility. That stance is right and proper.  But I would hardly deem her action “reckless beyond description.”

In CJSM we have published over the years several studies on banned substances. One of the pieces of original research just published in our March CJSM sheds some further light on this issue, I think: Dietary Supplements: Knowledge and Adverse Event Reporting Among American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Physicians.  Read more of this post

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