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My Kind of Medicine: Real Lives of Practicing Internists: Dr. Gary Dorshimer

Dr. Gary DorshimerDr. Gary Dorshimer was always interested in medicine growing up, but a surprise trip to the emergency room sparked his interest in the field. “When I was 12 years old I had to get stitches for a cut on my leg, and I was fascinated at the thought that a needle could travel through my leg after being injected with Novocaine, and I couldn’t even feel it. I think it was that experience, paired with my interest in anatomy and a fascination in the resilience of human beings, that made me want to go into medicine.”

Dr. Dorshimer received his Bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College and attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. While in medical school he was drawn to internal medicine because he liked the problem solving aspect of the field. “I had classmates in medical school who wanted to know a lot about a certain specialty and I thought I want to know a lot about a lot of things, and that’s why I choose general internal medicine.”

After completing his residency at Pennsylvania Hospital, where he was chief resident during his third year of residency, two of his mentors, Dr. Edward Viner, MACP and Dr. Roger Daniels, FACP asked him to join their primary care practice. Dr. Viner was the team physician for the Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia’s professional hockey team, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dr. Dorshimer was excited at the chance to be involved in this type of medical practice. Since Dr. Viner’s appointment as the team physician for the Philadelphia Orchestra required him to travel extensively, Dr. Dorshimer was given the task of covering the Flyers playoff games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. “When I first joined the practice and had the chance to cover the Flyers’ playoffs at Madison Square Garden I felt like a kid in a candy shop.”

Then, 15 years ago when the Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia’s professional football team, was making a change in their primary care staff, Dr. Arthur Bartolozzi, the head team physician, approached Dr. Dorshimer and asked if he would be interested in being the primary care physician with the Eagles.

Dr. Dorshimer is in his 29th year as the team physician for the Philadelphia Flyers and has finished his 15th season as the team physician for the Philadelphia Eagles. As the Eagles’ primary care physician, Dr. Dorshimer attends every football game, both home and away, whereas for the Philadelphia Flyers, he attends the regular season home games as well as home and away games during the playoffs. Although he treats a variety of injuries and illnesses for players of both teams, concussions are one of the most common injuries that he sees. “People are surprised to learn that it’s the internists and primary care physicians, not neurologists, that treat the players’ concussions.” Dr. Dorshimer is also responsible for treating the entire greater Philadelphia Eagles’ and Flyers’ families, which includes all staff, coaches, and players. “I think it’s a really great experience to provide primary care for both of my home teams.”

Although Dr. Dorshimer did not complete a sports medicine fellowship, he completed his certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine through the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1995. Currently, he is the Assistant Program Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. As Assistant Program Director, he is in charge of recruiting fellows for the Sports Medicine Fellowship as well as teaching the fellows at least a half day per week. “Teaching the fellows is a fun part of the job. I get to expose them to a professional sports medicine experience with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Flyers. But as an internist, I want to get them to think and to understand the thinking process of how quickly you deduce something really specific from a lot of general medical knowledge, especially in the field of sports medicine.”

Dr. Dorshimer teaches the fellows how to work with a team’s athletic trainer and how important that partnership is. “One of the things that we teach the fellows right from the start is how you and the athletic trainer take care of a team, how you talk to an athlete, and different issues that you have to consider in their diagnosis and rehab that you wouldn’t have to consider with other patients.”

Although Dr. Dorshimer admits that dealing with the many changes in health care can be challenging, he finds helping others to be the most rewarding part of the job. “The times that you can look back and say I really did something good for that person or the times when I was able to find an underlying medical condition that might not otherwise have been found are the most rewarding parts of the job.”

Outside of his career Dr. Dorshimer enjoys traveling with his family and playing golf, and of course cheering for the Eagles and Flyers.

Back to January 2013 Issue of IMpact

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