Becoming an Olympic Doctor

Everyone can appreciate how much time and effort an athlete has to put in to make the Olympic team. But did you ever consider the support team/staff that helps make it happen?

There are three main centers for Olympic training. These includes Chula Vista, Lake Placid and the flagship site at Colorado Springs. There are many other high-performance training sites (17 to be exact) spread over 15 states that also work in conjunction with the USO to provide the best training for some of the most elite athletes in the world.

The sports medicine staff is comprised of chiropractors, physical therapists and athletic trainers. This staff will live on campus, eat, treat and attend all training with the athletes at the centers. Other physicians such as orthopedic surgeons are also on staff either on campus or off-site.

I was recently invited to be part of that team.
I will be doing a two-week rotation/evaluation at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center in New York this October.

Chiropractors must have their advanced credentials in sports and must have at least 3 years working with sports teams, but longer time is preferable. Then a letter of endorsement is required from one of the organizations that they have worked with.

I spent 5 years working with UFC fighters, then spent the last 5 years working with the Southern Oregon Raiders. That includes treating their athletes at our clinic as well as going to as many games as possible (weekends included – in the heat, in the cold and in the rain… all volunteer).

My endorsement came from Matt Sayer, Director of Athletics from Southern Oregon University. I am honored that he and his staff allow me to be part of the Raiders team, and without that collaboration my invite to the Lake Placid would have not been possible.

Once the two-week rotation is completed and if the USOC thinks you have what it takes, you may be invited to work an internship at domestic national competitions. From there you may be asked to do international competitions such as the Paralympics, Pan American Games or world championships. Then you may get selected for the Olympic Games.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it relates to your own health care.

One of the biggest keys the Olympics are looking for is how well staff work with each other (doctors, trainers, athletes and coaches). There is no room for egos or rock stars. All medical staff work alongside each other with one single goal in mind – to take care of the patient!

When assembling your medical “team” consider that everyone should be on the same page and working to help YOU. If the Olympics can do it, so can the staff that takes care of you!

Matt Terreri, DC, CCSP® is a chiropractor at Southern Oregon Sports & Spine as well as the chiropractor for the Southern Oregon Raiders and volunteer for the US Olympics.