Team of Physicians for Students, or TOPS, was founded in 1998 by osteopathic physician Dr. Paul Steingard, D.O., a family physician and sports medicine specialist from Phoenix. Dr. Steingard recognized a strong need for young athletes to be screened and provided with free physicals to help save lives and avoid sudden cardiac arrest and death from medical conditions.
Dr. Steingard partnered with the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association for financial and administrative support and they have remained one of the event’s primary sponsors to this day. Many of the osteopathic physicians and medical providers who began with TOPS more than 10 years ago continue to participate in screenings. Along with vision testing, BP checks, and an oral exam, the screenings include free EKGs and echo cardiograms to detect potential heart problems. Dr. Steingard says, “If we save one life or help one child have a healthier future, we will have succeeded in our goal.”
A cardiac component was added to the program under the leadership of Arizona Heart Institute cardiologist William Rappoport, M.D., who acts as the lead cardiologist at the TOPS screenings. An annual TOPS event is held in Phoenix at Sunnyslope High School. Since the program’s inception, more than 18,000 free screenings have been performed, for youth between eighth grade and community college.
With nearly 500 volunteers, the program is made possible by the help of these local physicians, physical therapists, Medical Assistants, nurses and nursing assistants, and medical students from Midwestern University (Glendale) and A.T. Still University (Mesa). These volunteers promote the screenings to student athletes who are required to obtain screenings prior to beginning an athletic school program by Arizona state law.
A free TOPS screening was held this year on April 21 at Youngker High School in Buckeye, Arizona. More than 500 students between eighth andtwelfth grade had screenings that included comprehensive cardiac testing along with testing of their vital signs. Tests were conducted by a group of volunteer doctors, nurses, and Medical Assisting students from Arizona College. The students participating were enthusiastic and excited about participating in this worthy cause.
To learn more about Arizona College’s involvement with the TOPS program, or to learn about becoming a Medical Assistant yourself, contact Arizona College.