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The Gold Standard

Ryan Chiavetta, for HealthLeaders Media, August 13, 2014
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This article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Gloria Beim, MD, who founded Alpine Orthopaedics in Crested Butte, Colorado, received the offer of a lifetime in February 2013 when she got a phone call asking her to become the chief medical officer for Team USA during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Beim had worked to become a respected name in orthopedics, breaking through the "boys' club" perception associated with the profession and working through numerous challenges to accomplish her goals. That dedication created opportunities to work at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, and the 2012 games in London. Beim has risen to an elite position in sports medicine, which gives her a unique, global perspective when dealing with patients.

On preparing for Sochi: We do a lot of planning as far as bringing over sports medicine clinics, which includes having recovery services for the athletes, and medical equipment in case there are any significant injuries or illnesses. We bring our own pharmacy, and we bring a variety of professionals and doctors with us to take care of the athletes. We had a team of about 71 medical professionals including orthopedic surgeons, medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and even sports nutritionists.

On gaining global insights: I would always hover around different doctors and introduce myself and become friendly and say, "Hey, what are you guys doing for this? What are you doing for that?" and learn different techniques. I've brought a lot of things back to my practice that I would have never thought of or read about. It's hard enough to keep up with the American journals let alone journals from all over the world. 

On supporting the athletes: My job as a doctor is not to just sit there and to wait for someone to crash and get hurt. I feel like my job is to do everything and anything to support that athlete in any capacity. I go out there a couple weeks before the games and meet people and make friends and figure out how things work so if I did need something for an athlete, I've got it all dialed in because there are a lot of hoops that you have to go through to get things done, particularly in another country. In fact, I spent a year learning to speak and understand Russian before going to Sochi. 
—Ryan Chiavetta
Reprint HLR0814-13


This article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.