Med student Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is back in football mode with Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fresh off three months spent finishing his clinical work toward his medical degree, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is back in football mode. The starting guard returned from his native Montreal, where he’s in medical school at McGill University, and rejoined the Kansas City Chiefs in time for the start of offseason practice this week.

Duvernay-Tardif may have to make the medicine to football transition only once more. After a couple of offseason months in emergency medicine in medical school and another in geriatrics, Duvernay-Tardif said he’s finished with his clinical requirements toward his degree.

All that stands between him and graduation is an exam he is scheduled to take next May.

“I’ve got eight months to study,’’ Duvernay-Tardif said. “Of course I won’t be studying during the season. But as soon as the season is over I’ll have a good three months to study for that.’’

Duvernay-Tardif has been going back and forth from medicine to football since being drafted by the Chiefs in 2014. He tends to his studies each year when the Chiefs finish their season. He’ll come to Kansas City for the start of offseason practice in May and be about football the rest of the year.

“The hardest transition is moving from finishing up the football season to getting back into the emergency department, where you’re at the bottom of the whole hierarchy in terms of your role in the hospital as a medical student,’’ he said. “That transition is kind of hard because all of the spotlight focuses on you in the football stadium, although not that much because we’re [offensive] linemen. But still, transitioning to being in a hospital when all of the spotlight is focused on the patient, that mindset is hard.

“The last month in Montreal I was [eager] and looking forward to coming back here. It’s really good to be back.’’

Duvernay-Tardif signed a five-year contract extension with the Chiefs worth about $41 million, the kind of deal that would perhaps make most people rethink their commitment to med school.

Duvernay-Tardif’s initial thought after signing the contract was that he wanted to finish his studies. He was in fact back tending to his med-school responsibilities in Montreal mere hours after a quick late February trip to Kansas City to sign the deal.

He hasn’t changed his mind despite having time to digest the contract and its consequences.

“The contract for me was huge,’’ he said Wednesday. “I’m super happy about it. It’s a great vote of confidence from the Chiefs. But at the end of the day the plan is also to become a doctor. I promised myself I was going to finish my [medical degree] and I’m on track to finish it next offseason.’’

After graduation, Duvernay-Tardif’s next step toward becoming a doctor is his residency. Squeezing that in given his football schedule is problematic. Duvernay-Tardif said he plans to fulfill the five years on his Chiefs contract.

“That’s a big question,’’ he said. “I don’t know how exactly that is going to play out, to be honest.

“For me, the most important thing right now is to graduate. After that, I want to keep all of my options open so if I can do some internship ... I’ll do that in order to keep myself into the mindset of medical school a little bit so that when I apply [for a residency] when I’m done playing I’m still up to date with the knowledge.’’