Why did you choose your particular specialty?
As a junior SHO working in A&E in Oxford (which has a large student population playing a whole range of sports), I encountered a lot of sports injuries and was very frustrated as I did not know how to manage them. I started to read up about it and became increasingly interested in the field of sports medicine.
I had 2 ambitions at this point – to complete my training in General Practice in NW London, and to study for a master’s degree in Sport & Exercise Medicine (SEM). I did the first (which I have great memories of and would highly recommend to anyone), then set out to do an MSc at University College London in 2004.
I enjoyed my MSc studies very much – much more so than my undergraduate studies! The timing was fortuitous, as in 2005 the Department of Health recognised SEM as a new medical specialty and Parliament subsequently amended the Specialist Medical Order to create the new specialty. I worked full-time in General Practice until 2007 and, after much soul searching, decided to go for specialty training in SEM, working as a Specialty Registrar in SEM forthe next 5 years.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the variety of the job. One moment I might be helping an elderly patient overcome their painful knees so that they are able togo for their daily walks, the next I might be working with an injured high performing athlete or dancer to return back to occupational fitness. I like it when patients are motivated to get themselves better and are willing to try the well-intended medical recommendations – it gives the feeling of doctor and patient both working in partnership to achieve common goals!
One aspect I particularly enjoy is the wellness and preventative health aspect in SEM. This is something that has evolved in my practice over time. In addition to treating the acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries, I try to incorporate elements of injury prevention and exercise prescription into my consultations, in the hope that patients leave with more knowledge about what has triggered their overuse or biomechanical injuries (and therefore be in a better position to avoid it in future), and with a more positive attitude towards improving their general health and wellbeing.
What one thing do you wish every member of the public knew?
That any form of physical activity (even if it seems very trivial) is better than doing nothing at all.
Some members of the public have the perception that it is ‘all or nothing’- either they need to be doing physical activity to a very high standard to get the health benefits, or it is not worth bothering with at all. That is incorrect! My colleagues in SEM have created this fantastic resource that encourages everyone to get moving:
What three traits define you?
Loyalty, simplicity, optimism.
Who is your inspiration?
Leonardo Da Vinci. A true renaissance man. He achieved excellence in so many fields in his lifetime – science, art, architecture, engineering, music, mathematics… to name a few. I marvel at that intellectual nimbleness and the unique combination of extreme talent, intelligence and drive.
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
My family. The days my children were born mean everything to me. Qualifying as a doctor, getting onto the General Practice and Specialist Registers and getting married were all very special days too.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
It sounds extremely dull, but nothing else comes to mind. I am doing what I love and would not want to do anything else!
What advances in medicine are you most excited about?
At the moment, it is the public recognition that mental health issues are underappreciated and we can all do more to address it. A friend and colleague of mine lost his life to suicide earlier this year and it really brought that point home.
In medicine as a whole, dementia is rightfully starting to get more attention and research funding, which is vitally important as we have an increasing elderly population.
In SEM, we have a better understanding of treatment options with regards to injection therapies and electrotherapy modalities; better knowledge of how to manage soft tissue injuries such as tendinopathies and muscle injuries, enabling patients to return to their usual activities and levels of physical fitness faster that we would have done in the past. Clearly more work still needs to be done to improve that knowledge, but it is all looking very promising.
What (health) app would you most recommend?
The AMP app from Clarity Appraisals is very useful for logging CPD and reflections. I tend to do this on my phone whenever I have a few spare moments, for example when travelling on the tube, and find it very user-friendly. If they could enable a feature that allows me to directly upload CPD certificates either as a PDF or Word document (not just jpegs), that would be even better!
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Dr Rick Seah, Sport & Exercise Medicine Specialist
Read Dr Rick Seah’s latest article: Corticosteroid injections for managing musculoskeletal injuries