CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – How does Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune help keep the warfighter in the fight? For NMCCL, the answer means adding sports medicine to the list of graduate medical education opportunities.
NMCCL recently received initial accreditation as a fellowship site for Primary Care Sports Medicine by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Soon, Navy Medicine physicians will be able to apply for the program, the first of its kind at the medical center. According to NMCCL’s director for professional education, the pursuit for initial accreditation was crucial.
“More and more sports medicine doctors are being asked, ‘How do I get my folks operationally ready, and how do I get them back to function if they’ve injured themselves?’” said U.S. Navy Commander Dink Jardine. “NMCCL has the patient population for this because we are ideally situated on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.”
In the quest to bring a sports medicine program to Lejeune, Jardine was joined by Commander Emily Crossman, a sports medicine physician and the current division surgeon for 2nd Marine Division. She is also serving as the interim program director for the sports medicine fellowship.
Navy Medicine currently has one sports medicine program located at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. According to Crossman, with the volume of musculoskeletal injuries seen at Camp Lejeune, adding a sports medicine fellowship to NMCCL was the next, appropriate step.
“There are already well-established SMART [Sports Medicine and Reconditioning Team] clinics at Lejeune with excellent specialty support in orthopedics, radiology, and pain management. The fellowship will also complement the Family Medicine Residency Program,” Crossman said. “The fellows will likely spend time precepting residents. They will not only be in a learning mode, but they are turning around and teaching the residents in the sports medicine clinics; it’s a two-way benefit.”
Plans for the program include partnerships on the installation and off the installation. Fellows will work with athletic trainers at the Marine Forces Special Operations Command’s human performance center, Camp Lejeune High School’s football team, and the Pain Management, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center at Carolinas Center for Surgery in Jacksonville, NC.
The emphasis on partnerships will produce sports medicine doctors with the ability to manage acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.
“Fellows will be trained to do procedures like injections, ultrasounds for diagnosis and for guided injections,” explained Crossman. “They will have an understanding of injury prevention, sports nutrition, strength and conditioning, and the mental health aspect that goes along with injuries that impact people’s enjoyment of activities and ability to do their jobs.”
Both Crossman and Jardine say the drive behind adding sports medicine to GME opportunities is largely because of the Marine Corps. They have observed the Marine Corps’ push toward treating Marines and Sailors like athletes, even investing in athletic trainers for infantry units.
“We want to train 'sports med docs’ who understand the warfighter. Musculoskeletal injuries are the number one cause of limited duty which impacts the readiness of the force,” Crossman said.
Moving the program forward means supporting injury prevention, promoting early recognition and injury treatment- all designed to keep Marine and Sailors in the fight.
Said Jardine, “Sports medicine is a growing Navy and Marine Corps need, and it’s an area we know we are going to need more of, not less.”
Eligible applicants should have completed their primary care residency and are now seeking a specialty in sports medicine. Interested applicants may apply through the Medical Operational Data System (MODS) website. Fellows will be chosen by the Joint Graduated Medical Education Selection Board and officially report to NMCCL in the summer of 2023.