Head Team Doc

When Cal Teams Take to the Field, Dr. Chang Is Ready on the Sideline

by Fernando Quintero

For Cindy Chang, sitting court-side at basketball games, on the playing field at football games, or ring-side at boxing matches has all been part of a day's work.

Chang is Cal's head team physician, a job that puts her where the action is as well as in the more sedate surroundings of her Tang Center office.

"Some people think it's glamorous work," said the 32-year-old native of Columbus, Ohio. "It certainly is challenging work. I'm on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Chang came to Berkeley in January from Ohio State University, where she was assistant professor for the department of family medicine, associate residency director and director of the university's travel and immunization center.

Meanwhile, Chang also worked as Ohio State's team physician and as staff physician for the university's sports medicine center. She even managed to put in a few hours as a ring-side physician for the State of Ohio Boxing Commission.

At Berkeley, Chang has kept up her busy schedule. In addition to her duties as head team physician, she is also a clinical faculty member at UC San Francisco and an assistant professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

In her spare time--what's left of it--Chang enjoys playing basketball and volleyball, riding her mountain bike, hiking, photography and working with her husband on their Berkeley fixer-upper home.

"People tell me I'm always running around," said Chang, an energetic young woman with a firm handshake and a genial disposition. "All I can say is, I love my work. I learn something new every day."

As head team physician, Chang puts in up to 60 to 80 hours of work a week, sometimes more.

"I see a certain vision for the development of sports medicine here, and it takes a certain amount of work," explained Chang. "I hope to eventually see a program that cares for all students on campus involved in athletics. But that not only takes extra work, it will also take other resources."

Chang, the youngest of four children whose parents emigrated from China, developed her interest in sports medicine during medical school, where her favorite extra-curricular activity was participating in sports.

"I had four surgeries on my right knee by the time I finished my residency," she said. "You could say I developed a very personal interest in sports medicine."

Chang completed her internship and residency in family practice and in 1992 received a fellowship in primary care sports medicine.

"These days, team physicians are becoming more well-rounded by first training in a primary care field so that they're able to deal with everything from an eye injury to a knee sprain," Chang said.

Chang said the low number of women working as team physicians makes her job even more challenging.

"I think people develop a heightened sense of awareness when they see a woman team physician on the playing field," she said. "I realize I'm breaking some stereotypes. Hopefully, this is only the start of more women entering the field of sports medicine."


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