A Gator by way of Tennessee

A Gator by way of Tennessee

Ann Grooms reflects on an ‘accidental’ career in sports medicine

By Laura Mize

Ann Grooms/Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Ann McGuire Grooms, M.D., didn’t originally intend to work in sports medicine, but she’s glad she took the detour.

Grooms, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Medicine and former team physician for several UF athletic teams, has practiced at UF’s Student Health Care Center since 1978. That was the year her husband, Gary Grooms, M.D., took a job as a private practice general surgeon in Gainesville.

The couple met as undergraduates at the University of Tennessee and enrolled together in medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Grooms’ residency was in pediatrics, and she completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology.

In her first several years at UF, Grooms worked one day a week at UF’s pediatric hematology-oncology clinic. Her entry into sports medicine came about somewhat by accident, when her children joined a local swim team, coached by the university’s swim coach.

“He started asking me about the health care of his athletes,” Grooms explained. “At that point there was not any designated health care for athletes other than football and men’s basketball. The director of student health was the team physician for football and basketball. So I talked to him and said ‘We need to do something more for the other athletes.’ ”

Grooms began spending time in the athletic training room, then helped establish the sports medicine programs for other UF teams. Sports medicine fellowships were nonexistent then, so she worked with physician assistants and orthopedic physicians to learn musculoskeletal medicine.

Over the years, she helped to build the University Athletic Association’s sports medicine program into one that often exceeds NCAA requirements for things like physician coverage of local and away events.

Meanwhile, Grooms has maintained and expanded her other professional interests. Though she no longer works at the pediatric hematology-oncology clinic, her expertise in that area has come in handy.

“Sadly, I’ve picked up some lymphomas and some leukemias (in patients) and even helped treat those here,” she said.

She’s also developed an interest in treating students with eating disorders. Grooms and her team of nurses, nutritionists, counselors and psychiatrists provide care for students suffering from these disorders.

But Grooms is slowing down her work a bit these days. Motivated largely by a desire to spend more time with her two grandchildren, both of whom live in Gainesville, she gave up her team physician duties last year. She still remains active in the sports medicine program but has less responsibility.

In 2010, her accomplishments earned her the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Outstanding Alumnus Award, which she says “really is a big deal.” Grooms has remained active with her alma mater, representing the state of Florida on the UT College of Medicine alumni council.

She said she’s proud of her experiences at both UT and UF.

“I feel most fortunate to have received a good education and to have been given opportunities and support for doing something different.”