Shadowing a Doctor

January 15, 2014

Primary care sports medicine is an excellent career choice for physicians who prefer to focus on health care for the physically active individual. This specialty focuses on improving performance, preventing injury and enhancing overall health in sports persons and individuals who are otherwise healthy.

There have been huge strides made in this field in recent years and today sports medicine has evolved beyond treating common athletic injuries to comprehensive health care for all active individuals. Sports medicine patients include professional athletes as well as amateurs whose goal is to achieve their personal best.

The field of sports medicine is essentially divided into two general areas – Surgical and primary care. The surgical area includes surgical repair of damaged ligaments, tendons and joints whereas primary care encompasses all non-surgical care. Primary care sports medicine physicians usually work closely with surgeons and refer patients to them when necessary.

Patient in the Burns Unit Detailed job description

Some of your responsibilities as a primary care sports medicine practitioner will include:

  • Providing comprehensive health care for the active patient, including the diagnosis and treatment of sports or activity-related injuries and illnesses.
  • In-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of athletic conditioning.
  • Proficiency in manual techniques that help to prevent common muscular-skeletal conditions and treat existing injuries in athletes.
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation, particularly injuries that are commonly seen in specific sports.
  • Integrating nutritional guidance that aims to build endurance and strength for enhanced athletic performance.

Anyone who is physically active can benefit from the care and guidance of a primary care sports medicine specialist.

Work Settings

As a primary care sports medicine physician, you may work in a private or group practice work or you may work exclusively with a fitness club, a particular athletic team or a university sports program.

In addition to treating patients, you will also consult with coaches, athletic trainers and athletic directors on matters related to injury prevention and performance enhancement.

The field of sports medicine is expanding beyond the conventional realm of professional and college athletics and is expected to grow rapidly as people become more aware of the benefits of sports medicine in preventing injury, maintaining strength and endurance and sustaining an active lifestyle. 

Academic Requirements

Sports medicine training focuses on exercise physiology, nutrition, rehabilitation, treatment of traumatic injury and cardiology. Primary care sports medicine emphasizes the prevention of injury through proper techniques and training.

Although sports medicine is a recognised subspecialty, to obtain primary board certification in primary care sports medicine, you will have to first complete 3 years of residency training in a recognised specialty such as internal medicine, family medicine, paediatrics or emergency medicine. After you have completed your residency, you then do a Fellowship in sports medicine and take an exam to receive a Certification of Added Qualification (CAQ) in sports medicine. You are considered to be board certified in sports medicine only after successfully completing the CAQ. Continuing education is necessary to maintain certification.

Salary Range & Outlook

The average annual salary of a primary care sports medicine physician in the UK ranges from £22,143 to £20,000. Salaries depend on several factors including years of experience and where you are employed.