By Wendy Sarubbi | November 12, 2014 12:44 pm

UCF medical students joined a group on physicians, orthopedic residents and professional athletes for an in-depth session on sports injuries and treating athletes as a whole. The October 29 event at Christner’s Steakhouse in Winter Park was hosted by sports medicine physician and surgeon, Dr. Gideon Lewis.

“It’s very rare that medical students and residents have a chance to talk with professional athletes and physicians who treat these athletes on a daily basis,” Dr. Lewis said. “I just want them to think outside the box and understand that medicine is not just a science, but it’s also an art.”

The event a sequel to September’s All Star Sports Panel at the College of Medicine, sponsored by the student Orthopedic Sports Medicine Interest Group (OSMIG). At that event, students interested in sports medicine learned from professional athletes including Olympic gold medal sprinter Justin Gatlin.

The latest event provided a more intimate setting where students could talk with other health professionals, including orthopedic surgical residents from Florida Hospital. Dr. Lewis also went over specific surgical scenarios he has experienced, quizzing students on how they would handle the injury and treatment. One situation involved a surgical screw that broke during a procedure. “I’m dealing with a broken screw and a 24-year-old professional tennis player under general anesthesia,” he said of the surgery where he had to cut the screw apart with a tool that slices through metal. “I made a phone call, and had the tool brought to the office. It was almost like welding to see the sparks flying from it.”

For the students in attendance, the event provided an opportunity to hear about real-world decisions that surgeons make every day. “It’s invaluable for us to learn from the providers and patients from their perspective,” first year student, John Stelzer said. “Interactions like this are great for future physicians to learn from patients in the here and now, rather than just learning out of books.”

Students also heard from three former professional athletes: barefoot water skier, Ron Sharpa, triathlete Lisa Bentley and former NBA player and current Orlando Magic coach Laron Profit, who shared some of their own experiences with healthcare providers. “I just wanted to express my perspective on what gives me trust in my doctor, and how they can best serve the athletes that they will eventually operate on and give medical advice to,” said Profit, who encouraged the students to get to know each patient individually, and treat them based on their personal needs.

Lisa Bentley’s story included much more than sports injuries, because she has cystic fibrosis. The chronic lung disorder often claims the lives of its victims before the age of 30, but at 45 years old, Bentley continues to run marathons. “It’s like you’re constantly on the edge, both my respiratory health and my physical health,” she said of her professional career. “I had great doctors who were very proactive. A lot of my injuries only lasted one or two days—whereas other people they would last months—because they didn’t already have that team in place like I did.”

As the event came to a close, students networked with health professionals and athletes, asking questions and sharing experiences. For first-year M.D. student and former UCF soccer player Kyle Cox, the opportunity to speak one-on-one with sports medicine specialists was invaluable. “Having the networking community that UCF does really bolsters our education,” Cox said. “With so many talented and qualified physicians that are eager to help the students learn, it really is an effective and beneficial process.”

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