Breakdowns

The Friday Five: Dr. Jessica Flynn

Dr. Jessica Flynn

Dr. Jessica Flynn is a sports medicine doctor and core member of The 33rd Team who provides injury insights for the Boston Sports Journal as well as her own publication, DocFlynn.com

We caught up with Dr. Jess for this week’s Friday Five

Who is your biggest mentor?

Dr. Jordan Metzl has really inspired me with his commitment to building a welcoming fitness community in New York City. Dr. Metzl practices sports medicine at HSS. He and I actually did the same residency and fellowship, so I literally followed in his footsteps. I admire his unending energy, creativity and dedication to his patients.

What made you want to go into a career in sports medicine?

As a high school and college athlete, I spent my fair share of time in the training room. I’ve always felt most at home working with athletes, so when I decided to go to medical school there really wasn’t much question where I’d end up. Getting to know my athletes and helping to keep them on the field is the most rewarding job I could imagine. When they send me videos and photos of them back in the game it’s the best feeling ever.

What is one misconception the public has about injury rehab that you think should be cleared up?

Most people tend to think that injury rehab is all physical. The truth is, rehab is often just as much about mental recovery. Every injury is a mentally traumatic event. On top of that, when an athlete tears their ACL and the ligament is reconstructed, the joint doesn’t feel exactly the same afterwards. The athlete has to get over the fear of re-injury, the doubt of whether or not they will return to their previous performance level, and learn to trust their “new normal” knee to decelerate/cut/jump.

There is also the isolation that comes with being separated from your team by injury. I try to keep my athletes involved in their team activities as much as possible to help. Recovery is rarely a straight line, there are always bumps along the way. It’s so important for athletes to have a strong support system – it could be teammates, coaches, friends, family, doctor, trainer, therapist — to help them through.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. I really admire the creators in our world who aren’t afraid to go out on a limb to try something new and, sometimes, fail. As I’m sure you can imagine, doctors aren’t big risk-takers. We don’t take too well to failing. You’re not going to find me at more than a $5 blackjack table at the casino, and if you’re my patient I hope you find comfort in that! But people who take career risks to follow do something they feel passionately about are really inspiring to me.

If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?

  1. The first one is the easiest — my Dad, George Flynn. He passed away 8 years ago from cancer, but made such an impact on the world while he was here. He played fullback at Milburn High School in New Jersey and was an absolute legend. It wasn’t until after he passed away that I really started to love the game of football. There are so many football moments I’ve wanted to talk to him about in the last 8 years, so we’d have a lot to catch up on.
  2. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. I’d just love to congratulate and commiserate with this woman.
  3. Nelson Mandela. How he remained peaceful in the midst of so much hate and chaos is nothing short of miraculous. I’d love to understand how he was able to be such an effective leader who made real, palpable changes in spite of it all.