The Washington Redskins named Dr. Robin West the team's director of sports medicine Wednesday.
West is used to being the first in her field, as she is the only head female physician in Major League Baseball (she serves as the lead team physician with the Washington Nationals). With Wednesday's announcement, she has added a similar distinction in the NFL. She also is one of only two female head orthopedic surgeons in the league.
West on Wednesday said football is as "safe as it's ever been."
She attributed that to improvements such as instant replay, which allows medical staff to improve their treatment of an injury, plus having unaffiliated neurological consultants and an independent injury spotter at games.
"We have a lot of eyes on the field looking and all the research," West said.
"The NFL puts tens of millions into concussion research as well as the technology behind preventing head injuries."
West, a board-certified orthopedics and sports medicine surgeon, is the medical director of Inova Sports Medicine in Fairfax, Virginia. West is not new to the NFL, having served as assistant orthopedic team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 11 years. She also served as team physician for the athletic department at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
West joined Inova Medical Group in 2014 as chairman of the sports medicine institute, where she directs the clinical, strategic, administrative and academic affairs of the program.
Redskins president Bruce Allen said, "Dr. West's unique experience dealing with professional and amateur athletes makes her expertise extremely rare, and we are glad to add her to our team."
With the Redskins, she will work with a staff that includes Dr. James Andrews, a longtime consultant.
Dr. James Bradley, who is the head team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a close friend of West's in addition to being her mentor at University of Pittsburgh, said he knew West had the makings of an elite orthopedic surgeon within 20 minutes of observing her first surgical case, not only because of her technical skill, but due to the way her interpersonal interactions immediately earned her the respect of everyone in the room.
"People talk about the sports gene. Well, Robin has the sports surgeon gene," Bradley said. "The stage or the moment is never too big for her. Very few people truly have that quality."
"And," Bradley added, "the players love her."
West says her goal is to not only bring additional experts to the Redskins' medical staff but also to provide the players with immediate access to as many services as possible at Redskins Park.
"One way to enhance sports performance and aid in injury prevention is to deliver the highest level of care in the most timely and efficient manner," West said. "I am excited to join the Redskins' medical team and lead that effort."