While many are interested in getting into a career of sports medicine, not everyone knows how to become a sports medicine doctor. Before getting into the nitty gritty of finding out how to become a sports medicine doctor, let’s take a look at what a sports medicine doctor is and what they do:

What is a Sports Medicine Doctor?

A sports medicine doctor examines and diagnoses injuries sustained during sporting activity, exercise or during any type of physical activity. The need for a sports medicine doctor is not limited only to sports people, someone who trips and sustains an injury while running for the bus, for example, may seek the expertise of a sports medicine doctor.  A sports medicine doctor generally treats musculoskeletal injuries, including sprains, fractures and breakages, however they also treat chronic illness such as asthma or diabetes which can have an outcome on the performance of the patient. They also give advice on nutrition and how to optimize results, manage and educate on the prevention of sports injuries and encourage an increase in physical activity resulting in a healthier lifestyle for patients.

Sports medicine doctors have specialised knowledge and many years of extra studying which gives them the expertise in their field. Sports medicine is in growing demand as more and more people partake in sports and physical activities. Sports medicine doctors aid people through their injured period, continuously assessing and managing the injury, guide them through the recovery period and provide help in the rehabilitation phase.  They help both adults and children.

Steps to Become a Sports Medicine Doctor

Merging Professional Sports and Medicine - ShoulderMD SeattleThe first step in becoming a sports medicine doctor is in gaining a medical degree. Graduation from medical school with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree are the two initial options.

In the United States it is necessary for doctors to acquire a license before being allowed to practice medicine.  A rigorous exam where the candidate is assessed on basic science concepts and how these concepts are applied to the practice of medicine is carried out.

When the license has been obtained it’s necessary to begin residency training which takes between 3-4 years.  Voluntary board certification in your chosen specialty may be earned following completion of residency.

To complete the qualification to become a sports medicine doctor, a fellowship in primary care sports medicine must be completed for primary care doctors, whereas for orthopedic surgeons, a surgical sports medicine fellowship is required, usually lasting 1-2 years. During the fellowship you may be required to attend athletic events and provide medical care and the completion of a research project may be necessary. When the fellowship has been completed, a primary care sports medicine physician earns a CAQ (Certificate of Added Qualifications) in sports medicine while this is not necessary for Orthopedic surgeons.

What are the career prospects for a fully qualified sports medicine doctor? The world is his or her oyster in regards to career possibilities. Getting into one of the larger hospitals is always a good move for newly qualified sports medicine doctors as they have numerous possibilities for continued education and personal advancement. Alternatively, they could establish their own practice or start off by joining an existing multi disciplinary team of doctors where the possibility of becoming a partner is very enticing.

Becoming a team doctor may be the dream of many aspiring undergraduates and can lead to a fulfilling and exciting career either with colleges or sports teams, including professional sports teams. Their role within the team is as fundamental as the training team, they monitor players from signs of simple colds and minor injuries, to helping them recover from debilitating injuries.

The choices for sports medicine doctors are endless, especially in today’s world, where most people have understood the need for a more physical life-style and where top, elite athletes, who want to push all physical and psychological boundaries, are becoming ever more high-profile in today’s society.

If you’re in need of an orthopedist in Seattle, don’t hesitate to reach out!