The Athletic Training Department will be welcoming a new team doctor starting January 1, when Michael Pleacher will replace Lucien Ouellette.

The change in staffing is a result of the establishment of a new OA Centers for Orthopaedics location in Brunswick, where Pleacher was hired as a sports medicine specialist.

For the past half decade, Ouellette had been commuting to Bowdoin from the Saco office to serve as the team doctor. The new OA office in Brunswick allows Ouellette to stay stationed in Saco and Pleacher to work with the College.

"It made more sense to get a doctor that works two minutes away than 50," said Director of Athletic Training Dan Davies.

The responsibilities of team doctor include evaluating team injuries, referring athletes to surgical physicians, sending athletes to hospitals for casts and radiological exams, and following up on all medical conditions for injured and recovering athletes.

The team doctor decides what is best for the athletes before sending them to hospitals for surgical care.

"Pleacher will essentially be the gatekeeper for all injuries," Davies said.

Following undergraduate study at Wake Forest, Pleacher earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia. He completed his Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Maine Medical Center, associated with OA.

For the past six years, Pleacher has been the team physician for the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Because of a stipulation in his contract with New Mexico that kept him there through the fall semester, Pleacher was unable to start work in Maine until the winter.

Pleacher said he is ready for a change of pace from the city of Albuquerque.

"Running into people I know in town at restaurants and stores is an exciting and new change for me," he said in a phone interview with the Orient.

Pleacher played basketball through high school, college and medical school.

"I was always fascinated by how the body could recover from injuries," he said.

But recovery from sports injuries is often a long process, and Pleacher is aware that athletes can sometimes be overzealous when coming back.

Knowing firsthand how competitive collegiate athletics is, Pleacher said the biggest challenge of his job is the conflict between getting athletes back into competition and ensuring they have enough time to recovery and rehabilitate.

Davies explained that working with D-I teams for the New Mexico Lobos exposed Pleacher to "a higher level of athlete" at an institute with a "more intense athletic atmosphere."

Pleacher will not be devoting the majority of his time to any specific sport, but he will be required to attend all of the home football games as the physician on call because of NESCAC regulation.

In addition to working as Bowdoin's team doctor and practicing sports medicine with OA, Pleacher will also work as the team doctor for Brunswick area high schools.

Because of his interest in downhill and cross-country skiing, Pleacher will also serve as a team doctor for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.

Davies said that Pleacher will face the challenge of keeping up with the current trends in sports medicine so that he can best diagnose Bowdoin athletes.

"Medicine is always changing, so following all of the developing research in the sports medicine field will be advantageous for him to best complete his job and serve the athletes," said Davies.