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UNC Department of Orthopaedics is pleased to welcome Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics Jill Sylvester, MD, the newest faculty member in the Division of Sports Medicine. Dr. Sylvester joins this division’s Nonoperative Sports and Musculoskeletal (MSK) Medicine team.

Dr. Sylvester’s interests in musculoskeletal medicine stem from her undergraduate days as a Harvard College Track and Field team thrower, where she witnessed collaborative sports medicine in treating athletic injury. After graduating from the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine (2010-2014), she trained in Family Medicine (2014-2017) at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (Fort Belvoir, VA). Dr. Sylvester completed her Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, MD (2017-2018), where she served as a team physician at the United States Naval Academy.

Dr. Sylvester spent her early career in academic military medicine. Assigned by USUHS to Scott Air Force Base, IL (2018-2022), she served as core faculty for Saint Louis University’s (Southwest Illinois) Family Medicine residency, the only fully integrated civilian/military residency program in the nation. In 2019, Dr. Sylvester deployed on a nine-month tour to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. As the Officer-in-Charge for the Craig Joint Theater Hospital Outpatient Clinic, Dr. Sylvester provided combat medical support services to U.S. and coalition forces at the largest NATO hospital in Afghanistan.

Dr. Sylvester has a strong scholarship record in sports medicine and family medicine. She has authored a multitude of peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and published abstracts and presented widely at both national and regional podiums.  Dr. Sylvester recently completed a multi-center study evaluating the effectiveness of a mindfulness mobile application on pain and functional outcomes in adults with radiograph-proven knee osteoarthritis. She is currently a peer reviewer for the journals Current Sports Medicine Reports, American Family Physician and Sports Health.

In organizational leadership, Dr. Sylvester’s working group and committee service for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) has led to participatory impact on position statement development, national meeting planning, article review and other collaborative activities that advance AMSSM interests.

Dr. Sylvester’s awards, honors and volunteer physician service mark her commitment to operational and academic medicine. Among her honors: 1) Outstanding Resident Teacher Award (2017 – USUHS Family Medicine); 2) Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors (AFMRD) Resident Award for Scholarship (2017); 3) AMSSM “Shark Tank” Research Grant (2018); 4) Meritorious Service Medal (2022); 5) Humanitarian Service Medal (2021); and 6) Air Force Achievement Medal with Combat Device (2020). As a volunteer Team Physician for high schools, a junior college and the United States Department of Defense, Dr. Sylvester has built wide-ranging experience providing field-side and mass event medical coverage.

Dr. Sylvester brings to UNC Orthopaedics an invaluable background in education, research, leadership, and expertise in primary care-centered sports medicine.

She notes: “In military sports medicine, there is a mantra:  Every Warrior an Athlete.  Our patients must be ready to deploy to an austere environment and perform physically strenuous work.  Many patients have overuse injuries, and preventing re-injury is just as important as treating their initial pain.  Tools like functional strength testing, dynamic ultrasound assessments, and gait analyses can provide powerful information for patients who experience recurrent or nagging overuse injury. I look forward to teaching these techniques to residents, fellows and medical students here at UNC.

Growing up in the Triangle, I was fortunate to have a strong network of organized girls sports and role models in amazing elite female athletes who trained in the local community.  Today, the popularity of athletics among women in the region continues to grow.  I look forward to collaborating with our colleagues across UNC as we work to expand women’s sports medicine services and research in conjunction with the Sports Medicine Institute.”