What It Takes To Be A Professional Hockey Team Physician

Oct. 6, 2019

The Cincinnati Cyclones' team physician shares what it’s like to work with professional athletes on a daily basis.

team physician hockey team - Cincinnati Cyclones'

Hockey season is here! We sat down with their team physician, Christopher Utz, MD, UC Health orthopaedic surgeon, to find out what it takes to be a professional hockey team physician.

Q: Why did you decide to go into sports medicine? What is your favorite part?

A: I chose to train in and practice sports medicine due to my love of sports and the surgical procedures associated with sports injuries. I enjoyed learning about sports injuries and how to get athletes back on the field so they can compete in the sports they love. In addition, it is fun to be a valued member of the team.

Q: What are the requirements to become a team physician?

A: A team physician must first be a well-trained and licensed physician in the state where the team is located. In addition, a good team physician will have completed extra training focusing on the care of athletes and sports-related injuries. As an example, I trained in orthopaedic surgery, and then did a fellowship in sports medicine after I completed my training. I am currently board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and have a subspecialty certification from the Board in Sports Medicine.

Q: What interested you in becoming team physician for the Cincinnati Cyclones?

A: When the offer to cover the Cincinnati Cyclones was presented, I jumped at the opportunity. Hockey is a very fast and exciting sport that I really enjoy watching live, so being at the games and a member of the team is great fun. Secondly, the Cyclones are a well-run organization that is competitive every year in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League), and it was a great privilege to be a part of their team.

Q: What is your normal routine with the team?

A: Normally, I arrive at the arena 30 minutes prior to every game to assess any of the players who need attention before the game. I then go to my seat to watch the game. If an injury happens during play that needs urgent care, I will go to the training room to assess and treat the player. Between each period, I also go to the training room to assess and treat any injuries that did not need urgent treatment. Finally, once the game is over, I remain in the training room for any after-game treatment needed. Throughout the rest of the week, I am in constant contact with the team’s athletic trainer about injuries and any player medical needs.

Q: What is the importance of UC Health being an official healthcare provider for community teams and organizations?

A: UC Health is the major academic health center in the region focusing on clinical care through research and education. Because of this, we can provide superior, leading-edge, advanced care to all patients—including athletes. Athletes push their bodies to the extremes constantly. Through our care of all levels of athletes, high school to college and professional, we have superior knowledge about musculoskeletal health that we can apply to the treatment of the non-athletic population as well.