In spite of the many challenges, particularly involving financial and liability pressures, we do believe that the future is bright for the team physician. The blessings that come from caring for the athlete at all levels will continue to be tremendously rewarding for the team physician and motivate the next generation of physicians to continue to serve in this role. It will be increasingly important to "dot the Is and cross the Ts" regarding contracts and to be increasingly vigilant regarding the pitfalls of the liability situation. Furthermore, we believe that it will be very important for the physician to run counter to some of the financial pressures that may limit our involvement in the training room and to play an active role in on-site management of our athletes. This will be increasingly important to maintain good relationships with the coaches, administration, and the training staff as well as the athletes themselves. It is important for the team physician to remember that this is a "labor of love."
The additional burden of the regulatory process as it relates to resident and fellow involvement in the care of athletes also needs careful attention. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and other governing bodies are placing additional administrative demands on the supervising team physicians in terms of understanding the role of supervision in the training process. This requires additional documentation and in some instances a restructuring in terms of making sure that supervision requirements are met. This requires considerable case-by-case evaluation. These requirements need to be carefully reviewed and the contractual side of those attended to in order to avoid pitfalls in these areas. At our institution, contractual agreements are required with each of the high schools and collegiate relationships that we serve.
We believe that today's team physician is better educated and more likely to be part of a coordinated multidisciplinary relationship that allows the best care of our athletes than ever before. We must be mindful of the liability and confidentiality issues that face us today that were not present in the past. Though the team physician's role has evolved in these areas, we do think that it will always be a tremendous honor to serve in what we consider to be the defining role for the sports medicine doctor, that of the team physician.
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