March 4, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Sports medicine focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of injuries caused due to any kind of sports or athletic activities. Muscle, joint and bone health are the primary responsibility of sports medicine doctors, although they also offer more generalised medical care to the people whom they work with.
The main aim of sports medicine is to help individuals enhance their athletic performance, recover from existing injuries, prevent future injuries and achieve optimum health.
The field of sports medicine is evolving at a rapid pace. In addition to offering nutritional, exercise and lifestyle advice to professional athletes and athletic teams, sports medicine doctors also work in hospitals, private physicians’ clinics and fitness centres where they may lead a medical team that includes physiotherapists, athletic trainers, surgeons, coaches and other staff. They work with sportspersons who are looking to maximise their performance as well as with injured and disabled individuals who need help to increase their mobility.
Whether you work with a sports team or not, part of your responsibilities will include diagnosing musculoskeletal conditions, writing prescriptions, administering appropriate treatments and tracking the healing progress of individual injuries among other tasks.
Within sports medicine there are several different specialties, including athletic training, physical therapy, kinesiotherapy, exercise physiology, nutrition and dietetics and orthopaedic surgery. The career path you choose to take will depend on your interests, your educational qualifications and the environment that you want to work in.
You will need to have a number of hard and soft skills to be successful as a sports medicine practitioner. These include the ability to pay careful attention to detail and solve problems creatively, excellent communication skills and most importantly, the physical ability to turn or lift patients.
Before you can practice in this specialty, you must first obtain a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). These degree programs generally involve 4 years of academic coursework in subjects such as biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics and biochemistry.
After obtaining your degree, you must then complete a 3-year residency programme in another specialty such as primary care or family medicine. If you are planning on pursuing a career as an orthopaedic surgeon, you can choose to do your residency in orthopaedic surgery.
Since sports medicine is a subspecialty, you will need to obtain CAQ or ‘Certification Of Added Qualification’ in sports medicine. To prepare for this, you will need to complete a 2-year fellowship in sports medicine at a hospital, university athletic department or rehabilitation facility. During these 2 years you will be exposed to several different types of athletic-related injuries as well as the different ways to diagnose and treating these injuries. The fellowship also provides experience in associated areas such as rehabilitative techniques, nutrition, orthopaedic surgeries, performance psychology and brain trauma.
With more and more people looking for ways to achieve peak fitness and with athletes looking for ways to maximise their performance, the job potential in sports medicine looks fantastic for years to come. This is a great field to get into if you are a big sports fan and love the idea of being associated with sporting teams.