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Physician Spotlight: Orthopaedic Surgeon Joins UF Health St. Johns After Helping Team USA

Garrett Schwarzman, MD

Garrett Schwarzman is a practicing orthopaedic surgeon at UF Health St. Johns. He earned his medical degree and completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He then completed his sports medicine fellowship at the world-renowned Andrews Research & Education Foundation in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where he worked closely with Team USA volleyball and gymnastics athletes.

We sat down with Dr. Schwarzman to learn more about what led him to become an orthopaedic surgeon and how his experiences as an athlete shaped the way he practices medicine.

How did you become interested in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine?

I have been an athlete my whole life – from my time in high school on the swim team, to my days on the rowing team at the University of Wisconsin during my undergraduate years, to the triathlons and marathons that I compete in today. I have experienced many injuries. I know what it’s like not being able to do something you love because of an injury. I always knew that I wanted to help people get back to what they love to do. Paying it forward, helping patients to get back to the field, whatever their field might look like.

What is your patient philosophy?

To always be patient-focused. To make sure each patient can get back to what they love to do, whether that is being a world-class athlete preparing for a race or as simple as walking their dog, no matter what it may be. It has always been and will continue to be important to me to make sure each patient can go back to their regularly scheduled activities. I’m always very inspired to see my patients overcome major injuries.

How did being an athlete shape your patient philosophy?

I know what it is like to get hurt, to be injured, to have to sit on the sidelines while everyone else is out doing what they love while you can’t. This is a feeling that I don’t want my patients to experience. Knowing how being sidelined feels encourages me to continue to provide my patients with the best health care possible.

What injuries do you see most often?

The most common injuries I see are knee injuries - mainly anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tears and sprains, to be exact. These are pretty common knee injuries caused by sudden twisting movements that you see in many sports, but especially in football players and athletes competing in sports like soccer, lacrosse and skiing. I would say the second most common type of injury we see are shoulder injuries. These are more like torn rotator cuffs and dislocated shoulders, again very common among athletes who have repetitive overhead arm motions like those who play basketball, baseball, pickleball, tennis and even swimmers.

What makes you proud as a doctor?

There are two moments in my career of which I am most proud. The first one was working with Auburn University when I was completing my fellowship, and the second is working here at UF Health St. Johns providing sports medicine care to the athletes at Beachside High School. At Auburn, I mainly took care of the football team and some other teams, including baseball, swimming, softball and soccer. It’s the same with Beachside High School now. I enjoy taking care of the next generation of athletes regardless of the injury type.

How does it feel to know UF Health is now a member of the USOP Medical Network for Team USA?

Very proud. This is a great opportunity for all of UF Health to take care of these athletes. The relationship really elevates awareness of the expertise we offer at UF Health and at any of our practicing locations. During my career, I personally helped Team USA volleyball between 2020 to 2021 and Team USA gymnastics between 2019 to 2021. I can’t wait to see how other doctors provide aid to more athletes on Team USA.

What is your message to athletes?

Get out there, work hard, and if something were to happen to you, we are here for you, every step of the way.

Rapid-fire questions

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be? Definitely an aerospace engineer. I have always loved space. I would love to design a spaceship and take it into space.

One little known fact about you: I have actually traveled to 40 different countries, my favorite probably being Norway.

Favorite activity to do with friends and/or family: We love to go biking, hiking and snowboarding in Utah.

Favorite food: Pizza, no particular place. Just pizza in general.

Favorite color: Blue.

About the author

For the media

Media contact

Erin Wallner
Administrator, Marketing Communications, UF Health St. Johns (904) 819-4984