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Physician Spotlight: How a College Baseball Player Discovered Sports Medicine

Jason Zaremski Physician Spotlight banner

Jason Zaremski, MD, is a clinical associate professor at the University of Florida Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and chief of the sports medicine division. Since 2012, Zaremski has treated patients at the UF Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute.

In 2016, Zaremski was accepted into the U.S. Olympic Committee Volunteer Medical Program. He spent two weeks at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which piqued his interest in working more national and international events.

Earlier this year, Zaremski was named a Team USA physician for this summer in Paris. We caught up with him to talk about the accomplishment and how his philosophy as a physician supports Team USA athletes and UF Health patients alike.

When did you know you wanted to be a physician?  

I played college baseball at Emory University, an NCAA Division III school. In my junior year, I suffered a partial tear of my ulnar collateral ligament (in the elbow), so I started reading into why I was getting injured beyond the fact it was bad luck.

I wanted to figure out why it happened, so I would hang around the athletic trainer at Emory, and I would look at anatomy texts. I would ask “How will this heal?’” and “How do things get better?” even though I was majoring in business and sociology.

Headshot of Jason Zaremski

I shadowed that same trainer a little bit when I was in college. I shadowed a couple of doctors at Northwestern University when I was home in the summer.

I found I had no problems dealing with patients and scans when I was shadowing in the operating room. I knew I wanted to go into sports medicine, and it actually started with me getting injured.

How has your experience as a student-athlete molded the way you care for patients?  

For throwing-related injuries, I’ve been there. I’ve been in their shoes, so I can appreciate what they are going through.

Also, I recognize my job is not to be their friend but to do what is in their best interest in the short term and the long term. It’s a tough conversation to have with the patient and their parents.

As a physician, what is your philosophy?  

My goal is to help my patients understand their injuries and what’s going on. I’m honest with them as politely as I can be about ways we can improve their condition, whether surgically or nonsurgically.

For me, my focus is to improve your function more than anything. If you’re a runner, let’s get you back to running. If it’s throwing, let’s get you back to throwing. My goal is to get you back to what you love to do.

What is your message to those approaching their final days as student-athletes?

Very few people get to play professionally. If that’s your goal when you’re little, go for it, but we also must make sure we keep you healthy.

If you’re getting to the end of your career, whether it is in high school or college, make sure you have some kind of plan. Study in school. Find your passion. Prepare for your next step. We want to keep you as healthy, happy and successful on the field as possible.

Jason Zaremski playing soccer

Was working as a physician for Team USA always a goal for you?

My goal when I was in residency was to match into a sports medicine fellowship. Once I was in a sports medicine fellowship, my goal was to get a good job where I had the opportunity to take care of athletes and non-athletes alike. I got that opportunity thanks to Dr. Kevin Vincent and the University of Florida.

In 2016, I spent two weeks at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. When I came back, I knew I wanted to do more on national and international levels.

What does it mean to be going to Paris?

I don’t think there is any greater honor than helping to care for our country’s athletes as they compete in Paris. This will be the greatest professional opportunity that I’ve had. I’m humbled.

I was actually in Guatemala (in January) covering soccer when I got the email from Team USA. I called my wife, and I said, “It looks like we can’t take a summer vacation.” I forwarded the message to my chair, Dr. Vincent, and I texted him. Then, I called my dad.

I will be in the Athletes’ Village, and I will be helping in any way possible, whether that is in clinic all day, every day and all night or whether that is helping to cover other sports where the need is there.

I don’t think it will really hit me until I walk through the gates of the Athletes’ Village.

About the author

Peyton Wesner
Communications Manager for UF Health External Communications

For the media

Media contact

Peyton Wesner
Communications Manager for UF Health External Communications (352) 273-9620