The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has selected Harris Patel, MA, ATC, as part of its 62-member medical staff. Patel is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) currently enrolled in the Physicians Assistant Program at Emory University School of Medicine.
Patel will leave on July 28 to spend five weeks with the athletes, beginning with training camp in Dalian and then on to Beijing. Patel is the only medical professional from Georgia assigned to the USOC medical staff.
He began his career as an athletic trainer in 1998 and has been working with premier athletes since he was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia.
Patel's responsibilities at the games will include prepping U.S. athletes for practice or competition and evaluating injuries to determine the best course of action for the welfare of the athlete. He will also be involved with implementing treatment and rehabilitation programs.
"We are on call for the athletes 24/7 because they depend on us as medical professionals," says Patel. "We have to be on our feet for any medical emergency both on and off the field."
Patel's experience throughout graduate school and beyond is an impressive mixture of working on the medical staff of NFL football teams and spending his summers working with Olympic athletes.
His relationship with the USOC began in 2005 when he was selected to go to Sherbroke, Canada. for the Youth World Championships in Athletics. He interned with the USOC medical staff in Colorado Springs in 2004, working with all varieties of U.S. athletes, and traveled to Helsinki, Finland, for the 2005 World Championships in Athletics. In 2006 he traveled to Birmingham, England, for a track and field meet, and then on to the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I sometimes have to look back and wonder how I got all those opportunities," he says. "I have been very blessed and very fortunate."
Patel graduates from Emory's Physician Assistant program in December 2008. He plans to stay in the field of primary care and sports medicine. He says,"God has a plan" for him and he will follow that plan -- after he passes his boards.