Last week, Dr. James Borchers was named head team physician for the Ohio State Department of Athletics.
In the new position, Borchers will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of other team physicians and ensuring that every varsity student-athlete receives the best possible care.
Borchers said he is excited to take on the challenges of the new position. He started in his new role on Sept. 22.
“It’s very humbling,” Borchers said. “It’s a position that I think I’ve prepared for and am really looking forward to doing. It means a lot for me in my career development, and it means a lot for me doing it here at Ohio State.”
Dr. Christopher Kaeding, executive director of sports medicine at OSU, decided that with the recent expansions of the sports medicine program, it would benefit from someone heading the team physicians.
“With the expansion of our program and the increase in demands, regulation and bureaucracy and the caring for a Division I collegiate athletic program, we need to expand our personnel and resources to meet those needs,” Kaeding said.
And for Kaeding, Borchers was a shoe-in for the job.
“I think he has a passion for the job,” Kaeding said. “He has 12 years of experience, and he understands and is very good at implementing the team concept of caring for the student athletes.”
Borchers has been working at Ohio State for 12 years, but his time as a Buckeye started long before his time in the sports medicine program. After leaving his hometown of Bellbrook, Ohio, Borchers played center and long snapper for the OSU football team from 1989 to 1993. But, as a player, Borchers was still a bit unsure about what the future had in store for him.
“At that time when I played, I had an interest in medicine, but I also had some other interests and I didn’t really, at that point, have it figured out that that’s what I wanted to do,” Borchers said. “But certainly we had great team physicians back then, and I really appreciated the care I got. And I think as I went on and went to medical school and got involved in medicine, I really appreciated it more.”
After graduating from OSU, Borchers went on to the Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine, where he received his M.D. He completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Toledo Athletic Department from 2000 to 2004.
Since then, Borchers has been providing care to varsity athletes at his alma mater in the role of team physician.
While working as a physician, Borchers completed his master’s of public health at Ohio State in 2008, a degree that has done a lot to benefit him in his line of work.
“It’s been helpful as a sports medicine physician because although we are concerned about individual athletes, often times we are making decisions, too, that affect teams and groups of people and looking for ways to help treat certain injury types or prevent certain injury types so it really has been helpful for me with my career,” Borchers said.
Over the last two years, Borchers has had a more advanced role in the sports medicine field, serving the program at OSU as lead physician, associate professor, and division director of sports medicine.
To Kaeding, Borchers’ promotion serves more as a new title than new tasks to complete.
“It’s actually a very small jump from being the director of clinical operations to being the head team physician,” Kaeding said. “He’s essentially been doing the majority of the job as head team physician already; we’re just recognizing him with the formal title.”
But the new title does come with some additional responsibilities. In addition to overseeing other team physicians, Borchers will serve as the executor of the policies decided on by the Ohio State Sports Medicine Administrative Group. According to Kaeding, the group has to “formulate the policies and procedures for the care of the athletes.”
The group is an “intersection where the medical center and athletic department meet” and it consists of Janine Oman, senior associate athletics director for student services and sport administration, and Doug Calland, associate athletic director for sport performance, along with Kaeding and Borchers.
Looking ahead, Borchers has a few goals in mind.
“Primarily, first and foremost, (our goal) is to make certain that we’re leaders in advancing health and safety for our student athletes,” Borchers said. “We want to make certain that we are staying on the forefront of everything we can do to promote health and safety for our student athletes and be advocates for them.”
Borchers said being at the top of sports health care and providing a friendly and helpful atmosphere is key to the success.
“Secondarily, we want to make certain that we’re providing an environment where we are doing all that we can to help these student athletes be accessible to the things they love to do,” Borchers continued. “And so we have to help work within our multidisciplinary team to make that happen and if I can provide some leadership in that area, I will be happy to accomplish it.”