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Vital Signs:
Clinical Observation

In this section, we highlight the human side of clinical academic medicine, putting a few questions to a physician at DMS-DHMC.

Charles Carr, M.D.
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery


Carr, a graduate of both Dartmouth College and DMS, joined the faculty in 1989. He is medical director of DHMC's Sports Medicine Clinic and director of the orthopaedic residency program. His clinical interests include arthroscopy, knee and shoulder disorders, and trauma.

What made you decide to specialize in orthopaedics and, in particular, sports-related injuries?

Orthopaedics offers the physician a sense of quick gratification compared to other specialties. And sportsmedicine patients are very motivated to recover quickly from their injuries so they can return to their sport. I have a great deal of respect for physicians who care for patients who are chronically ill or have incurable diseases. It would be very difficult for me to be a bystander to irreversible diseases. We're fortunate in orthopaedics that we don't have to deal with that form of illness very often.

Did you play sports yourself growing up?

I played football, baseball, track, and golf all through high school. At Dartmouth, I was on the varsity track team.

If you weren't a physician, what would you like to be?

I wanted to be a veterinarian. If I had become a vet I would have probably chosen to care for large animals rather than just family pets.

What's the last movie you saw?

I have three sons—ages 8, 13, and 15—so I get to go to a lot of action movies with them. The last one that I saw was Spiderman 2.

What's the last book you read?

The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. My sons have become obsessed with the story, and that has sparked my interest in it.

What's your favorite nonwork activity?

Spending time with my family is number one, and playing golf is number two.

What about you might surprise most people?

I think people are surprised that I'm a southern Californian. I've been told that I act more like a native New Englander.

Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

My number-one accomplishment is raising three kind, caring children with my wife, Carol.

What bores you?

Filling out insurance and disability forms.

What is stressful for you?

Taking exams and speaking in front of large groups.

Are there any misconceptions that you find people have about your specialty?

Sports medicine is sometimes seen as a "glamour" specialty. People think that sports medicine physicians primarily take care of the acutely injured, elite, competitive athlete. But that's only a small part of what we do. Most of our patients are middle-aged weekend warriors or people with chronic overuse problems that require nonoperative treatments. We spend most of our time taking care of the bumps and bruises and musculoskeletal aches and pains that everyone gets.

Is there anyone who was a mentor for you?

Leland "Pete" Hall, who was chief of orthopaedic surgery when I was at DMS and during my residency. He is now retired and remains active in department conferences. He was enthusiastic about and truly enjoyed his profession. I hope I can remain as committed to the field and as excited about the care of patients as he was.

If you would like to offer any feedback about this article, we would welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

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