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

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Scientific Meetings

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Carl Askling (L) & Phatho Zondi (R)

As those of you who follow CJSM on this blog and on our other social media will know, I have of late been enjoying the South African Sports Medicine Association’s 16th biennial congress (SASMA2015).  I am on the plane heading back home, and my head is swimming with what are now memories of some wonderful lectures and social experiences I enjoyed during my time in Johannesburg.

My ‘real world’ of clinical sports medicine, teaching and research await.  My ‘real world’ is where I hope, in my own way, I am making direct contributions to sports medicine:  where I can truly ‘care’ for athlete/patients and ‘create’ content from which others may learn.

But how enjoyable it is to punctuate my professional life with the chance to ‘recreate’ with peers in this special world—to break bread (and drink wine), share ideas and concerns from some great minds.  I return from such meetings re-energized for my real world, with new approaches to common problems [the dancers under my care will be benefitting from the knowledge I gained on hamstring injuries from ECOSEP’s Carl Askling, for instance]. And I return having made new friendships, including that of SASMA’s new president, Dr. Phatho Zondi.

This is an appropriate moment then to have one of our editors weigh in on her own experiences with a conference she attended recently.  I give you  Dawn Thompson, a physician who will share some of what she learned in Barcelona this month.

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for cjsm blog HT

Camp Nou–home of FC Barcelona [and a recent ECOSEP conference]

It has been some time since my first blog on the use of ultrasound in musculoskeletal medicine and I have been mulling over what topics I not only have the authority to write on but also would be interesting to fellow readers and trainee doctors.

Last week I attended “Muscle and Tendon – Inspiring Clinical Excellence” conference in Barcelona organised by Muscletech and the European College Of Sports and Exercise Medicine (ECOSEP). Read more of this post

Ultrasound in Sports Medicine

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Dawn Thompson, MD using the sports med doc’s ‘stethoscope’

The subject of ‘sports’ or ‘musculoskeletal’ (MSK) ultrasound in sports medicine is one of the hot topics in our profession….all around the globe.

It’s been a particular focus here at CJSM since the beginning of the year, when we published two important documents about the subject in the January 2015 issue:  the AMSSM Position Statement on Interventional Musculoskeletal Ultrasound in Sports Medicine and the AMSSM Recommended Sports Ultrasound Curriculum for Sports Medicine Fellowships.

One of the more popular CJSM podcasts we’ve ever produced was the interview I conducted with the lead author of those statements, Jonathan Finnoff, with whom I’m looking forward to catching up at the AMSSM annual meeting taking place this week in Florida.

The issue of ultrasound in sports medicine is not of interest uniquely to Americans, however.  And so I reached out to our newest editorial board member, Junior Associate Editor Dawn Thompson, from the UK, for her perspective from ‘across the pond.’

Dr. Thompson, as well as being a new member of the CJSM Editorial Board, is a member of the  European College of Sports Medicine and Exercise Physicians (ECOSEP) Junior Doctors Committe and a fine writer.  You can expect more guest blog posts coming from here, I’m sure of that.

Thanks Dawn for the post.  And I hope soon to see many of you–reading this post, checking out the position statements, and listening to the podcast–in Florida or elsewhere!

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Dawn Thompson

As a newly qualified doctor interested in pursuing a career in the increasingly popular and competitive field of Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) I find myself faced with the same decisions and questions I’m sure many of my peers are also troubling over. For any aspiring SEM doctor what is the best route into the specialty? The options are fairly endless: General Practice, Emergency Medicine, Orthopaedics or even General Medicine seem to be on the cards. Should I complete any post graduate course or qualifications and if so which? And of course the holy grail of any individual lusting over a career in SEM – how do I get practical hands on experience with a sports team or professional athletes?! Read more of this post

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