Physicians spend years working toward the Olympics

Athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics have spent of most of their lives for that opportunity—and the physicians volunteering to treat them have had a similarly difficult path to Pyeongchang, South Korea.

As STAT reported, a crew of physicians, chiropractors, nurses, sports therapists and massage therapists is recruited by the U.S. Olympic Committee every two years. It starts with a selective application process and a host of prerequisites, like $1 million in malpractice insurance, a clean disciplinary record and a certification in sports medicine. If accepted, physicians would visit one of the U.S. Olympic Training Centers for more training, interviews and work helping the athletes preparing for the next games.

“You have a kind of internship type of thing, where you get to know their system, and they get to know you, basically,” said Scott Rodeo, MD, a sports medicine surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery who volunteered with the U.S. Olympic swim team in 2004, 2008 and 2012. “Then you start with smaller competitions.”

Who works at those smaller competitions is decided on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the doctors have to pay for their own travel—all to work for free.

“Over the time I was trying out, I was away from my practice for six months, and lost about a quarter of a million dollars,” said Mark Hutchinson, MD, an orthopedist in Chicago.

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