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Wildest Dreams: Logan Adjunct Professor Joins Taylor Swift: Eras Tour

Occasionally an opportunity of a lifetime presents itself. For Curtis Wildes, PhD, LAT, ATC, CSCS, DO(EU), that opportunity came in the form of a phone call last March.

“I had just received a contract to provide performance medicine services for a residency show in Las Vegas at the Wynn,” said the adjunct professor for both Logan’s Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning and Master of Science in Sports Science & Rehabilitation programs. “I felt like I was in the right place, doing the right thing. Then I received a phone call that changed my life—I was asked to join the Taylor Swift: Eras Tour.”

Wildes accepted the position as the sports medicine therapist, and 11 days later, he began a whirlwind year, traveling across the United States, Central America and South America.

It may be Dr. Wildes’ early career mindset that has opened so many doors for him. “Traditional schooling in athletic training and sports medicine is focused on primary and secondary school sports programs,” he said. “But I wanted more and never wanted a particular setting or patient population to limit what I was capable of doing.”

Dr. Wildes started his career working in professional baseball and later began working with Team USA Olympic and national team athletes. After traveling the world for several years, Dr. Wildes started looking for more work-life balance, so he shifted settings again and moved into performance medicine with Cirque du Soliel. That experience introduced new skills within sports medicine.

“It taught me a lot about the importance of an integrative approach to manual therapy and helped to improve my emergency management skillset,” he said. “Each show, act and performance required a different problem to be solved. The emergency management aspects of the job provided a great opportunity for problem solving skills for each individual emergency action plan we were creating. Those experiences made me a better provider by making me more well-rounded both in the clinic and out in the field.”

Dr. Wildes said working with Cirque du Soliel also provided the biggest shift in his personal mindset. He believes his job is to ensure each artist feels good and can focus on performing at their best, whatever it means to them.

“The idea of performance metrics is very different,” he said. “There’s no traditional KPI in this setting; the objective is just put on a ‘good show.’ Good is subjective to each person.”

After a few years, the journey to earn his PhD presented an opportunity to find a new setting and patient population to work with: the U.S. Air Force. Focusing on human performance optimization, Dr. Wildes worked with the military special operations warfare divisions, working alongside chiropractors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, sports physicians and strength and conditioning specialists in an integrative approach to care.

After completing his PhD, Dr. Wildes saw an opportunity to become a medical concierge for entertainers and residency artists in Las Vegas. Now, with the Taylor Swift: Eras Tour, Dr. Wildes finds his past skills and work experience in the fields of sports medicine, athletic training and manual therapy converging.

“In sports, you would always aspire to be better than the competition,” he said. “Not in performance, though. There’s no competition, no weekly build-up toward a game. It can feel like Groundhog Day. You want every show to look and feel exactly like the last show. In these embedded positions, you have to become creative in the therapeutic approach. You have to keep patients engaged, and I have to keep myself mentally engaged, too. I might see patients for an hour-long visit five to six days a week, whereas traditional therapy may look more like 12 visits over six weeks. So, it’s a real shift in creative thinking.”

During the U.S. leg of the Eras Tour, Dr. Wildes traveled to 28 cities for 50 shows where he was primary responsible for the artists and crew. “The production staff alone is more than some university athletic rosters, which included backstage assistants, wardrobe, lighting and rigging,” he said. “Essentially, I try to assist wherever I can with any department, provide guidance on exercises and deal with the issues that come up acutely.”

One thing that Dr. Wildes has been impressed with is the work-life delineation that’s been established as part of the performance culture. “On this level, everything is so honed like a well-oiled machine,” he said. “Everyone is conscious of each other’s own time and respects personal time away for family. Even though you are working with a global superstar, it’s nice knowing there is a good separation of work time and personal time.”

When he’s not on the road working or taking time for himself, Dr. Wildes is in front of Logan students sharing real-life experiences. He said the biggest benefit of his current work experiences is the ability to open students’ eyes to the possible employment opportunities after graduation.

“When you’re in a dedicated program, you can have blinders on and may be thinking this is the only way it can be done,” he said. “Being in so many different settings has given me an opportunity to work with so many types of practitioners. We all have the same goal, but we may have different titles or techniques to help us reach our goals. It’s an integrated approach, and it’s helped me see outside the box as far as learning and having a more fluid experience with my patients and other practitioners. It’s true of any concept in life.”

Dr. Wildes said he appreciates the timing of his decision to become an instructor around 2018 when Logan was making the shift from a chiropractic college to a chiropractic and health sciences university. “I loved being on the ground level of the program and to see how much it has grown in such a short time,” he said.

The Eras Tour is making its way around the globe until August 2024. Dr. Wildes may never know what the next call will bring but until then, he’s loved every experience he’s encountered.

“Looking ahead, I’m most excited about expanding on the concierge medicine business model and helping put other integrative therapists on tours or with shows while exploring different settings,” he said. “I’d also like to continue inspiring students at Logan through my experiences and let them know they have so many options after they graduate—they have skill sets that are valued across many different settings.”