From Medical School Classrooms to the NFL Playing Field: An Interview With Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

Ryan Syrek, MA


June 15, 2018

Although his job is to become an obstacle himself, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is just as versed in overcoming them. In May, the offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs graduated from McGill University with his MD, making him the only current active NFL player to hold that degree. As he prepared for both the upcoming football season and his future in medicine, we spoke with Duvernay-Tardif about his unique experience.

Medscape: To start, are you familiar with Medscape at all?

Duvernay-Tardif: Oh, yes. I think I passed my exams because of you guys!

Medscape: Great! I really appreciate that. So what made you pursue medicine?

Duvernay-Tardif: I would say that at around 16-17 years of age, I was pretty convinced that medicine was for me. I knew if you want to get into medicine, you need good grades, so I had the motivation to be a better student and get the grades I needed to get into med school.

I was lucky that I didn't have to do an undergrad program. In Canada, they have a fast-track program where instead of doing a full undergrad before getting into medical school, you can do a 1-year program where you can do all your physiology and biology classes all together. I had the chance to get into that program, and that's how I was able to manage football and medicine at the same time. There's no way I could have finished my med school doing part-time med school like I did for the past 4 years.

Medscape: Have you chosen a specialty?

Duvernay-Tardif: As I started doing my clinical rotations, I just loved everything. After psychiatry, I was like, "I'm going to be a psychiatrist!" After ob/gyn, I was like, "I want to be an obstetrician!" When I started doing my elective classes, I really focused more on emergency medicine. That's really what I like doing.

I just feel like time goes by so fast when you're in the emergency department, and the challenges of managing your time—everything needs to be efficient. You never know what is going to step through the door. I love the challenge of treating patients and doing a first contact with a patient and working a differential diagnosis, knowing what resources are available, and what tests to order in order to find your diagnosis.

Medscape: Do you have any plans for residency or to participate in Match Day?

Duvernay-Tardif: Last year during the season, I was focused on doing my Match and applying for residency. But then the Chiefs were doing really well last year. We made the playoffs and won the division. I was like, "Oh my God, I won't be able to make it to the interviews!" It was really stressful for me.

I was coming back from an injury also. So I decided to give myself an extra year and really focus on studying. Board exams were stressing me out a little bit, because I stretched my education to 8 years. Plus, I told everybody I was going to pass my exam, so there was quite a bit of pressure on me! Emergency medicine is a pretty competitive residency.


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