Alicia K. Tucker, MD, CAQ, is board certified in family medicine, with an added qualification in primary care sports medicine. She is the team physician for Lincoln University. She was previously a team physician for the University of Maryland, College Park. Her clinical interests include sports medicine, sexual health and adolescent health.
Dr. Tucker sees sports medicine patients in Center City, as well as at Drexel Family Medicine in Manayunk and Drexel University's Student Health Center.
What made you want to become a doctor?
I ran track and field, and I had issues with back pain. I went to a couple of doctors but they couldn't figure out what it was. It was my hurdle coach who said, “You have a leg length discrepancy.” I got orthotics and saw a chiropractor, and I was fine. It was an annoying experience, but that's how I began to think about sports medicine.
In undergrad, I was a chemical engineer and didn't know what I wanted to do next. I had thought about medicine, but I didn't apply. Then a woman in my church came up to me and said, “I had a vision about you. You're not supposed to be an engineer. I had a vision that you were in a white coat. You're supposed to be a doctor.” When she told me that, I decided to apply to medical school, and I got in.
Why did you decide to pursue family and sports medicine?
When I was in medical school, I really liked the approach of treating the whole family. I enjoyed pediatrics, but I realized that you couldn't treat the child without treating the entire family. For example, if a child is having issues with obesity, it's important for the whole family to be involved—to change their diet, to not drink soda, to not let the kids eat cookies for dinner and so on.
My interest with sports medicine began when I ran track and field in high school and college. When I was coming up, there really weren't any sports medicine doctors to treat whatever was going on with me at the time, so I became interested in it as a possibility.
You currently work as a team physician for Chestnut Hill College. What is that experience like?
It's different. I came to Drexel from the University of Maryland. I was the team physician for University of Maryland College Park, which is a Division I college. Then I actually changed over to be the team physician at Lincoln University, which is a Division II college. Chestnut Hill is also a Division II college.
Division I and Division II are very different in regards to the level of athletics. At University of Maryland, we had NCAA and Big Ten championships. The level of athletics and the early specialization with athletes affected what injuries they had. Division I athletes also faced a lot of pressure to compete, and the amount of time dedicated to their sport could be all-consuming. I think Division II sports take up a little bit less time of the student-athletes' lives. Even though they still face pressure to perform, I think the pressure isn't as great as Division I sports.
How do you balance your time between Drexel and being a team physician?
This experience is very different for me, because at Drexel, I only do sideline coverage for football. When I was at University of Maryland, I did sideline coverage for basketball, lacrosse, field hockey and gymnastics, so I was there for a lot of different sports. Now my life in the fall is very, very busy, whereas the rest of the year it is much more manageable. It's easier to balance my life now. We have a sports medicine fellowship, and the fellows are the ones who are with the teams in the training room. I manage the fellows, but they're the ones doing more of the hands-on work. When a fellow wants us to see an athlete and reevaluate them, they come to Manayunk or one of our sports medicine clinics where I see them.
In addition to being a team physician, what other services do you provide at Drexel?
I'm a primary health care physician, so I provide all of the services of a family physician. I'm also faculty for the family medicine residents.
What do you like about working at Drexel?
I really like working with the sports medicine team. I work with Dr. Trojian, and he is very established in sports medicine and well respected in the field. He's taken it upon himself to mentor me, and it's been great. I also like working with the residents. They are a great group of people who are really into learning. They want to treat patients really well and provide the best care. I think everyone's very excited to work at Drexel. There's great camaraderie between peers. I'm very, very happy at Drexel.
How has the move been from Maryland to Philadelphia?
I was born and raised in Maryland and most of my family is there, but I really like the Philadelphia area. I like cities that have museums, great food and things to do, so Philadelphia is a great fit. I also love the diversity. And it's one of those cities on Eastern seaboard that is close to everything. You have New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC all very close together, so it's a great place to live.