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SCU Alums on the Front Lines at the Winter Games

The 2018 Winter Olympics will kick off at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium Feb. 9. While athletes from 92 nations will take center stage, dedicated doctors will be behind the scenes — playing a pivotal role in keeping their teams in elite shape.

Three SCU alumni will be USOC medical providers at the games, and Dr. Jennifer Watters ’08 (LACC, CEM) — who leads the SCU Sports Medicine Clinic — will be providing care for resident athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.

We sat down with SCU Director of Sports Medicine David Foster, DC, DACBSP, CSCS, to find out more about SCU’s relationship with the USOC.

Dr. David Foster

What is the relationship between SCU Sports Medicine and the United States Olympic Committee?

SCU has a unique relationship that provides Sports Medicine residents an opportunity for extended rotations at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Residents learn by observing Olympic clinicians and providing care for Olympic athletes under the clinicians’ supervision. This mentorship allows for the development of advanced clinical skill sets. Moreover, many of our alumni go on to work with the USOC.

More than 70 percent of full time chiropractic employees at the USOC are SCU alumni. What is unique about the SCU program?

SCU provides an educational program that focuses on evidence-based, outcome-driven care. One of the most critical factors in treating high-level athletes is making an accurate diagnosis during the first patient encounter. SCU’s team of clinical educators demands the highest level attention to detail.

What role does a sports medicine staff play in impacting Team USA’s performance?

From recovery, injury prevention, and advanced care sports medicine, staff play an important behind the scenes role. Sports medicine staff work integratively with a variety of medical professionals: chiropractors, massage therapists, athletic trainers, medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, surgeons, dentists and administrative staff with the singular goal in mind of providing the highest level care possible for Team USA athletes.

What types of injuries and illnesses do you predict the medical staff will encounter at the 2018 Winter Olympics?

Medical staff will treat both musculoskeletal injuries and medical illnesses. Common musculoskeletal injuries include shoulder pain, lower back pain, hip, knee and ankle strains. Common medical illnesses include upper respiratory tract infections, cough, sore throat, and gastroenteritis. The staff is also trained to treat traumatic injuries such as broken bones and head injuries.

How do sports medicine physicians train to treat Team USA?

All Team USA chiropractic sports physicians require certification by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (ACBSP) and a minimum of three years clinical practice in a sports medicine environment. Upon meeting these minimum requirements, a physician may be selected for a two-week Olympic Training Center rotation. If the physician shows advanced clinical competence, he or she may be asked to return for additional rotations. After several rotations, a physician may be asked to provide care for a specific team. It may take years of skill development to reach this achievement.

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