BABE #166: Dusty Narducci M.D. C.A.Q. S.M., Sports Medicine Doctor, University of South Florida
As a doctor at the University of South Florida, Dusty’s daily sports and family medicine clinic visits include everything from the athletic training room to the sidelines and beyond. Somewhere in the midst of the hustle, she makes time to teach lectures, contribute to academic journals, travel for leisure, and keep up with a rigorous personal fitness schedule (which starts promptly at 4:45AM each day.) Fun fact: she also stepped in as the Florida-based physician for the 2018 Women's National Hockey Team. She’s as driven as they come, and we don’t know how she does it, but we’re feeling #blessed she took some time to chat with us about it all.
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Current city: Tampa, Florida
Alma mater: The University of Central Florida
Degree: B.A., Molecular Microbiology - UCF; Medical Degree - American University of the Caribbean; Family Medicine Residency - Houston Methodist Hospital; Sports Medicine Fellowship - Mayo Clinic
Very first job: Server, Hooters (and proud of it!)
Hustle(s): Physician, USF-Morsani Family and Orthopedic Medicine; Assistant Professor, Morsani-USF College of Medicine; Assistant Director, USF-Morton Plant Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship; Team physician, University of South Florida Athletics; Team physician, Saint Leo’s University
Babe you admire and why?
Any babe trying to make a difference in our world who is true to herself.
How do you spend your free time?
Being outdoors and trying fitness trends has always been an outlet for me. I’ve never been a fan of the “staycation.” I’m notorious for traveling across the world, even if it’s only for a few days. I’m an audible junkie and alternate three nerdy books with one fun or trashy book. Concerts, dance parties and sporting events fill the little free time I have.
Favorite app, website or blog?
Anything about fitness, sports, nutrition and I’m proudly addicted to scientific journals. I’m a huge podcast listener. My favorite medical podcasts are Questioning Medicine and Primary Care RAP. Freakonomics and Revisionist History also are my top choices.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Sweet potatoes and eggs. Yes, sometimes even together.
What is something you want to learn or master?
Diagnostic and therapeutic musculoskeletal ultrasound. This skill is a fundamental part of my practice and significantly beneficial to my patients. I’d love to master art of public speaking and teaching.
What’s something most don't know about you?
I had a difficult upbringing. Most people assume that everything has been handed to me, but it’s been the complete opposite. It’s been a rough journey, but I’m proud of where I came from and the woman I look at in the mirror everyday.
Three words to describe yourself?
Fearless, strong, kind.
What does your typical workday look like?
My alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m., and I start with a run, ride or fitness class. I get to the clinic(s) at 7:30am (including family medicine, sports medicine, concussion, athletic training room, injection and concierge medicine,) and leave around 6pm. I usually have one to three medical students or a sports fellow with me during these clinics. In family medicine clinic, I see all types of patients (newborns, adolescents, geriatrics and pregnant) and treat acute as well as chronic medical issues (heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, skin rashes, respiratory illnesses and psychiatric conditions). I also do in-office procedures such as toenail removals, skin biopsies, and laceration repairs, etc. My patient population consists of professional athletes, weekend warriors, pediatric and geriatric patients. My time spent at the athletic training room consists of treating both USF and Saint Leo’s University athletes for multiple orthopedic and non-orthopedic issues, for whom I'm available by phone 24/7. Depending on the season, I work one to four sporting events (which can be anything from USF football to local racing events) and address emergent situations from the tent or sideline. I bring a student with me to most of the games, making this a teaching and learning opportunity. At home, I catch up on medical charting, prepare lectures and presentations and work on my current article/publication/research I’m trying to get accepted.
What’s your role with the Women’s National Hockey team like? How do you juggle this with other roles?
As a newbie, this was a huge career moment for me. For seven months leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the team trained in Tampa, FL. The team has two devoted female physicians but they don’t live in Florida, so I was asked to step in during this time. I covered their games and health concerns while prepping for the Olympics. Witnessing the sacrifice, dedication and determination of the entire Women’s National Hockey team and staff changed my life.
How do you make time for your personal athletic endeavors?
I don’t make excuses about diet or exercise. It is really that simple.
Based on your experience, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today? How do you tackle this problem in your work?
Unfortunately, there are so many. Not having enough time with my patients is at the top of my list. Additionally, I wish more medical professionals would question medicine and how we practice. Medicine will see a positive change once we start asking “why” and questioning our current practice. Many corporate aspects of medicine are dictated by individuals who have no clinical knowledge or experience. If this continues, there are going to be detrimental consequences.
What is your experience in terms of contributing to academic journals and studies?
I’m a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and present an interesting case at their annual meeting called FMX (Family Medicine Experience). I have authored multiple case presentations, as well as published books such as Case Files Family Medicine and am currently working on a few chapters for The 5-Minute Sports Medicine Consult. As an avid member of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine (AMSSM), I present cases and research at their annual meeting. As a member of the Publications Committee for the AMSSM, I edit, develop, and publish position statements (e.g., “Blood-Borne Pathogens in The Context of Sports Participation”). Research is a generous part of my career. I’m involved in multiple studies with some already published, others in the process and a few in the working stages. I write for SportsMedToday and Beginner Triathlete Online Magazine. I am asked by various organizations to give lectures about nutrition, concussion, musculoskeletal ultrasound and other topics year-round.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
The sports world is certainly male-dominated, but I have been blessed with phenomenal guidance from both males and females in the industry. The most influential mentors in my career have been males. People fail to recognize that although football players may be four times my size, I can handle them better than a group of girls. I am a very feminine-looking female and sometimes people perceive this as me not fitting into the sports world. Wearing red lipstick, heels, dresses and curling my hair doesn’t mean I don’t like blood, sweat and broken bones. I can relocate a shoulder and also put together a smokin’ hot outfit with six-inch stilettos. There will always be a stereotype to fight and I’m fine with the challenge.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Understand what you’re getting yourself into. Athletic events are a blast, but it’s in addition to your normal responsibilities as a physician. Being away from home, traveling, working weekends and long hours can be exhausting, especially if you’re not passionate about your career choice. Athletes have problems just like the rest of us, so you need to be good at and willing to treat everything. Some primary care sports medicine physicians forget their residency training and only want to treat musculoskeletal injuries. I will always be a family doctor first, and this makes me a better sports medicine physician. Even if a sport isn’t your favorite, you become a better sports medicine doctor by covering all types of sporting events. Finding your niche is fabulous, but it’s crucial to remain well-rounded. Be willing to work hard, even if it’s not “doctor stuff.” Certified athletic trainers, physical therapists and coaches have endless knowledge; learn from them and help these individuals when they need it. Be part of the team, tape an ankle, fill a water bottle and thank them often.
What does success look like to you?
This is a great question. Success is defined differently by all of us. Success to me is finding balance. I’m a woman, doctor, daughter, friend, athlete, world traveler, future wife and future mother—all of these roles are or will be important to me. Finding and maintaining balance among these roles defines my idea of success. Timing and certain situations will require that some of these roles become more essential than others, but this is what balance is all about. I’m successful when I do my best, whether I succeed or fail.
What’s next for you?
It’s going to be a long road, but I’m determined to make it to the Olympic Games a part of the medical team. I want to become an academic leader in medicine and help build strong, compassionate future health professionals. Concussions, the female athlete, mental health, musculoskeletal ultrasound and nutrition are just some of the topics I am going to dedicate my time to. I’m going to continue contributing to medical literature and earn respect within the sports and family medicine communities. My free-spirit nature will have me traveling and experiencing as much of the world as possible. Marriage and children haven’t been a part of my life yet because I haven’t been ready for it. I’m looking forward to the day I am a wife and mother, along with my many other roles.
Career and/or life for other babes?
Have goals, not dreams. Have a plan, but accept that you’re going to fail sometimes and this is only going to make you exceptional. Fight society’s stereotypes and pressures. If you’re not ready for marriage or kids, don’t go there yet—or ever. When someone tells you you’re not good enough, prove them wrong with a smile on your face. Listen to your instinct, because it will never fail you. Always remember to be kind and humble. Don’t forget to say thank you and I love you.
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