The University of Maryland (UMD) has appointed Yvette L. Rooks, M.D., to serve as Director of Sports Medicine, Lead Team Physician and Assistant Director in the University Health Center (UHC). In these roles, Dr. Rooks will lead the UHC’s newly-created sports medicine department, and serve as the primary care clinician and sports medicine specialist to UMD student-athletes, and to the campus as needed. She will oversee all aspects of sports medicine, including athletic training, sports nutrition, and sports psychology.
This position is part of the university’s transition to a model of autonomous and patient-centered care for student-athletes. This is a model in which the athletic medical staff, including the lead team physician, athletic trainers, nutritionists and mental health practitioners, are employed outside of and operate independently of the athletics department, as part of the University Health Center in the Division of Student Affairs.
“The University of Maryland is fortunate to have Dr. Rooks back on our team,” said Dr. David McBride, Director of the UHC, to whom Dr. Rooks will report. “She is a respected family physician and national leader in the field of sports medicine. We are pleased to have her and the sports medicine staff join the University Health Center as we seek to provide care for our student-athletes in a holistic context.”
Dr. Rooks comes to the university from RWJBarnabas Health, New Jersey’s most comprehensive academic health care system and the official health care provider for Rutgers University athletics, where she serves as Chief Medical Officer for athletics at Rutgers. In this role, she provides leadership and clinical care in both sports medicine and primary care for all Rutgers student-athletes. Previously, Dr. Rooks served for nearly two decades as a team physician at the University of Maryland.
"I am excited to rejoin the University of Maryland team and work with student-athletes to advance their health and wellness,” said Dr. Rooks. “I have a long history at Maryland and I'm thrilled to continue that work in this new role."
During her time at UMD, Dr. Rooks also served in many roles at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, including Assistant Professor, Residency Program Director and Executive Vice Chairman for the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Dr. Rooks is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; and College Athletic Trainers Association; and is an Executive Board Member of the College Athletic Trainers Society. She is certified under the American Board of Family Medicine.
She has earned a number of honors and awards in her career, including Baltimore Magazine’s Top Doctors Recognition; UMB Presidents’ Founders Day Award for Public Servant of the Year; John M. Dennis Award for Commitment to Rural Health Medical Education; and Faculty Teaching Award, awarded by Family Medicine Residents for contributions to resident education. In addition, she was a speaker at a White House Initiative on Men’s Health in 2016.
Dr. Rooks earned a B.S. in biology and chemistry from State University of New York at Albany, and M.D. from the Health Science Center at Syracuse. She completed her residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she served as Chief Resident and was a fellow in the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, Division of Sports Medicine.
"We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Rooks home to the Maryland family,” said Athletic Director Damon Evans. “Throughout her distinguished career, she has exhibited an unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of student-athletes. We look forward to working with her on the establishment of a new model of student-athlete care here in College Park."
“As Maryland continues to develop an athlete-centered model of care that ensures autonomy and independent care by the clinician, the hiring of Dr. Rooks as lead team physician is a major step forward,” said Dr. Rod Walters, President, Walters Inc., a sports medicine consultancy, and chair of the university’s Athletic Medicine Review Board. “Maryland is a leader in creating change as colleges and universities continue to examine their delivery of care to student-athletes.”
The appointment of a full-time team physician based at UMD culminates a year-long effort to implement all the recommendations from the external reviews conducted following the tragic death of student-athlete Jordan McNair in 2018.
The commitment from Maryland Athletics to the well-being of its student-athletes will continue beyond the 26 recommendations across the two reports that were specific to health and safety policies. With the announcement this spring that the sports medicine staff would be employed outside of the athletic department, Maryland joined only a handful of other universities with an autonomously employed sports medicine operation. Further, the work of the sports medicine staff is guided by annual, ongoing assessment from independent experts through its an athletic medicine review board. Dr. Rooks will coordinate the continuous review and implementation of best practices across athletic training, nutrition and mental health units for student-athlete well-being.
Reforms implemented by Maryland Athletics over the last year include:
Strengthened policies and practices for safety and well-being across all sports;
Enhanced the development of and regular training of the Emergency Action Plan;
Expanded the availability of enhanced trauma bags and automatic external defibrillators;
Launched a real-time reporting and tracking system for student-athletes to raise concerns;
Increased the attendance of senior administrators and representatives of the University’s Athletic Council at practices and workouts;
Developed a Code of Ethical Conduct for all Maryland Athletic employees; and
Adopted the best practices developed by the College Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association for all of our strength and conditioning staff and changed the reporting lines of our football strength and conditioning coaches.