Next week the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team will travel and compete at the FIS World Cup in Austria.
Along with the athletes will also be Dr. Alecia Gende, a DO who works at Mayo Clinic Health System and is now the team’s physician.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, a privilege really to work with such high-caliber athletes and get to experience different parts of the world at the same time,” said Gende.
While this is her first time working with the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team, she has served as a team physician in the past on the NCAA Division I level.
For her, it’s a rewarding role.
“You get to celebrate their wins, you get to mourn the losses and kind of enjoy the learning experience that the athletes experience,” Gende said.
Dr. Gende also has experience being a United States Navy Nurse Corps officer.
She was deployed in Africa and Iraq as a lead flight nurse and says the position was like nothing else.
“In military medicine, what you do is make the war fighter invincible and you take someone who was injured on the battlefield and fix them up, so that they can go back and continue to fight.”
Dr. Gende says there are plenty of differences when working as a team physician as opposed to a doctor in a typical medical facility.
“Having very limited resources is going to be some of the challenges and getting to know the athletes,” said Gende.
As a new team physician, she won’t know the team prior to traveling to Austria, but believes her time in the ER has helped her prepare.
“Similar to the emergency department, you have a brief period of time where you get to know your patient,” Gende said. “[You] get to know their needs, how they communicate, how they learn, and then you can satisfy their needs and keep them healthy.”
Gende will be staying at the same lodging as the athletes and available to treat them 24/7.
“They set goals and they have dreams and you get to be a part of the team that helps them achieve that,” Gende said.
Gende is a part of a physician pool for the U.S. Ski team as well and hopes to experience more opportunities in the future.