A Day in the Life: Soccer Doctor

Published: Thursday, Jan 01, 1970
Daryl A. Rosenbaum, MD, assistant professor and director of the sports medicine fellowship at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has been working as a volunteer physician with the US Soccer Federation since July 2003. He took some time to speak with us about his experiences.

How did you start working with the organization?

I wish I could say it was because I was one of the greatest doctors in the world. Truthfully, my brother became an equipment manager with the US Soccer Federation, traveling with various teams. He’s the one who let me know that they have doctors who could get involved as well. My brother put me in touch with the director of sports medicine for US Soccer, and we talked a few times. I traveled to Charleston, SC to meet one of the teams my brother was traveling with and met some of the administrative staff of US Soccer. They decided to give me a chance to go on a trip. Now, I’m the team physician, and it’s not an official title or position because I’m a volunteer.

With how many teams have you actually traveled overseas?

I’ve made six trips; three with the under-17 men’s national team, one with the under-15 boy’s national team, and two with the under-21 women’s national team.

Are you usually the only physician that travels with the team?

There’s one physician for each team that travels with them. We also work with an athletic trainer who’s a healthcare provider, and we work together to help take care of the team. We take care of not only the athletes, but as the team physician I’m responsible for the health of the staff .

How many times on average are you consulted when you’re overseas with the team?

It can vary, but it tends to be a few times a day. When you’re traveling and living with the team, you don’t have set office hours. You’re available whenever somebody needs you. I’ll be consulted for two or three injuries per trip, but I also am asked questions about general health, nutrition, and past medical issues that an athlete has had, among other things. My role is to see key injuries and act as a health counselor. I am available to the team all the time; people are asking me questions on the bus and at dinner, as well as set times in the training room.

Medically speaking, what injuries or illnesses have you encountered with any of the players during your time as a volunteer physician?

Fortunately, I haven’t encountered any serious emergencies. We had to manage a significant concussion, [ultimately] taking the athlete to the emergency room for some tests and observations. I’ve taken some athletes for x-rays of twisted ankles and other similar injuries. Of course there’s the typical illnesses people may acquire while traveling like traveler’s diarrhea, sleep problems, jetlag, colds, and illnesses.

How long do you plan on continuing as a volunteer physician?

As long as I’m able to practice sports medicine and can balance with my family life and my job, I hope to continue as a volunteer physician.

What is your main goal that you hope to achieve working as a volunteer physician?

I feel that this position allows me to, in a small way, help some athletes who are already competing at a very high level achieve some of their dreams. I also enjoy being able to travel and to work with an organization like US Soccer. I am thrilled with where this has taken me. Sure, it would be a dream-come-true to work at a World Cup or another big tournament, but I like the way it fits in with my professional and family lives. It would be hard to ask for more than what I already get to do.

How could one of our readers become a volunteer physician for any sport or for any team?

It is surprising how many high schools still don’t have medical coverage on the sidelines at their home football games, let alone for other high-risk sports. Simply ask the athletic director or athletic trainer/first responder at your local school. Most would welcome any type of help that you can offer. Not only is this a nice way to market yourself but, more importantly, it is a great service to the community and just plain fun.

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