Over the past six years, Bowdoin's athletic medical services have risen from the bottom of its conference to the top of Division III, according to Athletic Director Jeff Ward. Ward recently claimed that Bowdoin's medical services are the best in the division, citing the professionalism of the staff and the unique athletic training and physical therapy resources that are provided to athletes on campus.
"The overall operation here is phenomenal...it reflects that we really care about students," he said.
Ward cited the efforts of Director of Athletic Training Dan Davies, who has made a huge impact on the quality of athletic training services available to injured students over his six years at Bowdoin and has implemented smart innovations to minimize athletic injuries on campus.
"A couple of years ago, Dan said we needed to put all of the football linemen in knee braces, which would have cost thousands of dollars," Ward said. "At that time we were averaging four ACL injuries per year in football, and now we're down to less than one. The day we put on the knee braces the coach showed me a play back where, if the kid hadn't been wearing a knee brace, he would have been out for the season—but [with the brace] he wasn't even out for the game. And the cost of one ACL surgery covers the price of the knee braces—it saves money, and it saves operations."
Ideas like these reflect the continuous drive of Davies toward improvement, frugality and practicality that keeps Bowdoin's medical staff at the top of the division.
In his time at Bowdoin, Davies has designed two new training rooms, outfitting them with high-quality equipment.
Ward said that the efforts of the athletic department with regard to medical care focus on one question: "How do we give great care in a way that takes less time away from students?"
Davies's efforts over the past six years have significantly increased the amount of care available to students as he has increased the number of athletic trainers on staff and introduced an innovative documentation system, Workflow, to the College.
When Davies came to Bowdoin, the athletic training department looked very different.
"We started out at the lower end of our conference, with three or four trainers on staff. We now have five full-time trainers and one full-time therapist—it's a real testament to the school, which puts an emphasis on the health of its students," Davies said.
Bowdoin's Select Medical Physical Therapist Todd Lamoreau is the full-time physical therapist on staff. Lamoreau is contracted from a national physical therapy firm to work with Bowdoin students, and has worked at the College for six years.
When he started out, he was only working twelve-hour weeks, but now he is in the training room for 45-50 hours each week.
"The need has increased, and the school's perception of needing care has increased over the past six years," said Lamoreau.
Ward cited the impact test for concussions that the athletic department uses as an example of its high-quality care.
"The protocol [for the test] is first rate," he said. "It's much more scientific, safe."
"Definitely, as opposed to other places, people get back to their sport here faster," Lamoreau said.
The extensive physical therapy and orthopedic services do not incur any cost on the athletic program, as the costs are covered entirely by students' home insurance and the College's athletic insurance.
"It's pretty unique that orthopedic services and physical therapy don't cost anything to the College," said Ward.
Davies' prowess in his field is best evidenced by the yearly sports medicine symposium that he hosts every year at the College. He is well-known in the field of athletic training, and as Ward said, "Dan really, really cares...he will always insist that we make the right decision for students' long-term health."
Davies introduced Workflow to the College, a paperless documentation system that allows the athletic trainers to ensure better continuity of care to injured students.
"We're able to document injuries quicker, so we get more hands-on time with students—it's more professional," Davies said.
Bowdoin is the only school in the NESCAC to have implemented Workflow, though it is being used at a handful of larger school across the country. The new system, along with the professionalism of the medical staff and the first-rate facilities at the College, places Bowdoin's athletic training program among the best in the country, according to Ward.
"Dan runs a real quality operation...his record keeping increases our ability to keep track of injuries," said Ward. "I have complete faith in their ability to assess injuries and start rehabilitation...they're real professionals."
Indeed, Davies also cited the across-the-board professionalism of the Bowdoin Medical staff as a key reason for their success.
"First and foremost, the professionalism of the staff is the base of the program," said Davies. "It's also our communication with students—you have to make sure you let them know that we care."
There is great communication between athletic training, the health center and the counseling center, Ward said. "We're looking out for students on all sides," he added.
Football quarterback Oliver Kell '10 wrote of his experience with the athletic trainers at Bowdoin in an e-mail to the Orient.
"Dan Davies has bent over backwards to patch me back together and make sure I could always get back on the field. He has continued to work with me in the off-season so that I won't have any injuries on into the future. He works a ton of hours and will do anything for you if you are willing to do what he tells you...This season I tore the labrum in my shoulder, dislocated my other shoulder, sprained my knee, and got a concussion and Dan was there for me through every single one of them."
"We're here for the students," Davies said. "Our job is to help them be the best athletes possible, in a safe environment."