Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Eric Tannenbaum
Eric Tannenbaum

July 16, 2014

Former Michigan wrestling great Eric Tannenbaum (2005-08) was a four-time NCAA All-American -- just the sixth in U-M program history -- at 149 and 165 pounds,earning national finishes of sixth, fourth (twice) and second. He captured Big Ten titles as a freshman and senior and twice won the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational title. Tannenbaum posted a 143-21 career record to rank fifth among Michigan's all-time winningest wrestlers.

Over Tannenbaum's competitive career at Michigan, the Wolverines were a regular fixture among the national level with top-10 showings at the NCAA Championships in each of his four seasons, including a runner-up finish in 2005. Michigan also claimed two Big Ten dual-meet titles in his first two seasons.

Tannenbaum also excelled in the classroom during his undergraduate career. A neuroscience major, he was a three-time Academic All-American and recipient of the prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship and earned multiple academic accolades from Big Ten and National Wrestling Coaches Association. He graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2012 and recently started his third year of orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan Health System.

Tannenbaum and his wife, former Michigan volleyball standout Megan Bower (2006-09), are expecting their first child this fall.

Q. What has your residency program entailed? What are you doing right now?

A. The first year is considered your intern year, in which you broadly rotate on a bunch of different surgical services, like plastic surgery, neurosurgery, trauma/burn, some orthopedic surgery, radiology, anesthesia, etc. The second year is the hardest year. It's the biggest learning curve, because you're doing all orthopedics from that point on, and you need to learn quickly. They don't teach much orthopedics in med school, and the previous year of residency had been general surgery services. It's also the first time you're taking trauma call, so it's a busy year.

This year, third year, it's supposed to be a little bit easier than the second. We rotate through various orthopedic specialties -- hand surgery, trauma, reconstructive joint surgery, sports surgery, etc. I'm on sports right now, so I'm at MedSport, and we see a lot of athletes and do a lot of knee, shoulder and hip scopes.

Q. Now that you're through your most difficult year, do you feel more comfortable as you get into your third year of residency?

A. I once heard that you don't ever really feel comfortable until you're out practicing for 10 years. We switch specialties every six weeks, which also means a new set of patients. I do feel like I have good baseline knowledge and a broader knowledge of orthopedics in general -- and I'll continue to build on that -- but there is a lot left to learn.

Eric Tannebaum

Q. Do like having some continued involvement in athletics?

A. Of course. Not all orthopedics is sports -- there are a lot of joints, trauma and other areas -- but on this sports rotation, it's fun to see athletes. I feel like I can relate to them on a closer level. I know how devastating it can be to have an injury in the middle of a season. I think it's important to have gone through it to really understand their situation. That's why a lot of people who go into ortho have done sports in the past. I enjoy working with athletes. It's gratifying to see someone you've operated on go on to succeed again.

Q. You maintained a rigorous schedule in both academic and athletic areas in undergraduate, and you were quite successful with both. Was that challenging for you?

A. It definitely was never easy. I think the most important thing was planning. It started in high school. I knew wrestling would take a lot of time, and I knew I wanted to do pre-med, so I took as many AP classes in high school as I could and came in with those credits. I took 16 credits my redshirt year and took courses in the spring. It was all about planning for me, which made it manageable. When I stopped wrestling after undergraduate, it was a little easier. Maybe not easier, but I was able to spend my free time regrouping and relaxing instead of working out or on the road. It was just different.

Q. You've been in Ann Arbor for a long time now. Is this home now?

A. I'm going on year 12. I came here in 2003. This is definitely home. I love Ann Arbor. I chose it for undergraduate, medical school and residency, so there must be something I like about it.

Eric Tannebaum

Q. Have you enjoyed being around the wrestling team as a fan the last few years?

A. It's been really fun. As a resident, if you're interested in ortho sports, you can pick a team to cover, and I elected to cover wrestling. It's been fun to stay in touch with the guys, although we're getting to the point where I don't know many of the guys on the team. But it was great sticking around, especially through med school, and seeing Kellen [Russell] do what he did and being around the Churellas and other guys still here. I've had the opportunity to support the program as an alum, a fan and as a physician. I've really enjoyed that.

Q. You're a pretty cerebral guy; how are you preparing for the birth of your first child?

A. I was told to just pray. We have the baby's room ready and just had the couples shower. So many people have kids that it seems like it can't be that hard. We're excited. It's definitely going to be a challenge. I already have a crazy schedule, and I'm scheduled to start my trauma rotation right after the baby is born. So, it'll be an adjustment period. We've got some family coming up to help. Meg is going to be a great mom.

The recently created Office of Alumni Engagement strives to foster a community, recognize the holistic student-athlete and honor the great Michigan Athletics history. This alumni spotlight illustrates the impact that our alumni are having around the world and how they stay engaged with Michigan.

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