Roles within Rio: health careers to consider

August 10, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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With the Olympic and Paralympic Games beginning in Rio this week, there are hundreds of talented young sports people looking to be inspired by the athletes competing over the next month. Not only this, but it’s a fantastic time for aspiring health professionals; Team GB alone has a team of 44 medical professionals with them!

To get your own heart racing, we’ve put together a list of healthcare roles that would get you on the road to Rio.


Physiotherapists are responsible for making sure that athletes are fully prepared physically for the rigours involved in competing at such a high level. They will work one-to-one with their patient to improve function and movement, preventing injuries or strains as well as treating them if they occur.

Although many sportspeople have their own dedicated massage therapist, physios can also use manual therapy to work on a particular joint or muscle, increasing the blood flow and aiding recovery.


It’s true that ‘you get out what you put in’, and never is this a truer statement than in sport. Depending on their client’s discipline, a nutritionist will organise a strict meal plan to ensure that they get the right amount of carbohydrates and protein for their body to perform as efficiently as possible.

The Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, who won two gold medals at London 2012, described her diet as a mixture of lots of carbohydrates including bananas, oats, bread, beans and potatoes to keep her well fuelled throughout the day.

Massage therapist

Massage therapists are integral to all sports, particularly endurance sports such as long-distance running, tennis, and swimming.

If you become a massage therapist for sports people, you will play an extremely important role in making sure your clients’ muscles are not tense or strained before they compete in any events. This will minimise chances of injury and maximise chances of success!

Sports coach

Coaches are responsible for helping their teams or athletes perform as well as they possibly can – they do this by organising training programmes, monitoring health and wellbeing, improving teamwork and motivation and, when you have a good deal of experience, mentoring other coaches.

Coaches will be required to either train with the governing body for their sport, or complete an accredited course with their university. To reach the level where you will be coaching Olympic athletes you’ll need loads of experience at community, semi-professional and professional level as well as a really detailed knowledge of your chosen sport.

EMT doctors or paramedics

While all of the previous roles are relating to the athletes themselves, large sporting events such as the Olympics, World Cup or Commonwealth Games attract huge amounts of spectators who will also need medical assistance from time to time.

Emergency teams and voluntary organisations such as the St John Ambulance play a vital role in ensuring the wellbeing and enjoyment of all, and medics will assist visitors with minor injuries, falls, dehydration and any serious incidents that arise.

How do I get started?

Just like training to Olympic level in a sport, working in healthcare to this standard requires a lot of training and preparation – but it promises to be a fantastically rewarding stage in your career.

To get you on the right path it’s important to learn as much as you can about your chosen profession. In the case of paramedic science and physiotherapy, our work experience placements overseas can give you a fantastic insight into what your day to day role might entail. Then, if you decide it’s right for you, the fact that you have already got some shadowing experience will be really beneficial to your application.

Wishing all of our athletes the best of luck in Rio – and who knows, maybe we’ll see you on the sidelines soon!

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.