A day in the life of Dr. Busam

The Medicine Man

Dr. Matthew Busam prowls the sideline at an Elder football game,

courtesy of Dr. Busam

Dr. Matthew Busam prowls the sideline at an Elder football game,

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work behind the scenes as a sports medicine doctor with professional athletes?

Dr. Matthew Busam, Elder class of ’93, knows the ins and outs of sports medicine and has been lucky enough to work for our hometown football team, the Cincinnati Bengals. In addition to working for the Bengals, Dr. Busam runs his own Mercy Health Cincinnati Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Western Hills.

Receiving his B.A. at the University of Notre Dame, his M.D. at Vanderbilt University, and advanced training at the world-renowned Rush University, Dr. Busam was no stranger to hard work and dedication in the classroom. He told me, “So fourteen years after high school, I was finally ready to start.”

To me, fourteen years of extra schooling sounds nothing short of dreadful, but he told me good grades were the key to his success.

So fourteen years after high school, I was finally ready to start.

— Dr. Matthew Busam

Obviously all this extra time and effort was worth it in the end, but I wanted to know how and when he knew this was the career for him. He told me, “There are going to be days where anybody can get frustrated with what you do.” He told me he decided on medicine late to mid high school but wasn’t until his third or fourth year of orthopedic residency that his focus shifted toward sports medicine. He also added, “It wasn’t until half way through medical school that I decided on Orthopedics.”

As far as his job with the Bengals is concerned, he plays the role as the team’s assistant physician and to quote his very own words, “the least important of the doctors on the staff”. Still, being around professional athletes and working with state of the art technology and equipment makes his job extremely intriguing, especially to a sixteen year old kid like me.

Dr. Busam plays a vital role in both free agent evaluations and potential draft picks for the Bengals. This entails reviewing their medical history to determine their suitability to play in the NFL. On game day, his main job is to look at further evaluations of injured players that may go down or need more in depth viewing back in the locker room. He told me, the head physician Dr. Marc Galloway will take the first evaluation and if the player needs a second one he takes them back to the locker room to make a final decision on whether it’s safe for the player to play or not.

Interaction with the players is obviously one of the many benefits of Dr. Busam’s job, so I wanted to know some of his favorite players to be around. He told me how lucky they are to have such great guys on the Bengals, not only what they do on the field but their contribution in the community.

Just to name a few, Giovanni Bernard, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, and the “red rocket” Andy Dalton were at the top of his list of guys that he called, “tremendous human beings.” He added that he only mentioned four out of the fifty guys that all do great work in the community and are great people.

One of the more interesting stories he went on to tell me was the fact that the players eat Rice Krispies Treats during halftime. For all you including myself who thought Rice Krispies Treats were just a little kids sugary snack, you’re wrong. Apparently Rice Krispies are a great source of energy including complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. He told me the players have no problem eating them because they actually taste good. He admitted they he will often join in on the fun and have a Rice Krispy himself.

Aside from being the assistant team physician for the Bengals, Dr. Busam gets the honor of coming home to his alma mater to be the head physician of all Elder athletics. I asked him what it means for him to give back to Elder.

“It means a lot. The coaches are guys that I grew up with or that were my teachers or have been around for a very long time, and now as I get a little bit older and further along in my career, it’s a real privilege to be around a place that does things right.”

You may see him walking around campus on Tuesday’s checking in with Aimee and Fitz to make sure all injured athletes are doing well and on the path to recovery.

To finish it off, I was interested in knowing some of the personal benefits of being a sports medicine doctor. He told me, “I get to do something that I love. Sports are fun and that’s what they’re supposed to be. Finding a career that you love makes it a lot easier to love the work you do.”

I want to personally thank Dr. Busam for allowing me to do this interview, while giving me a brief tour of the facilities at Paul Brown Stadium.