How to Become a Sports Medicine Doctor

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Sports medicine focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions and injuries related to athletic activities and exercises. Sports medicine doctors are specially trained medical professionals that care for a variety of athletes.

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What does a sports medicine doctor do?

Sports medicine doctors specialize in treating patients engaged in a variety of athletic activities such as professional sports, school sports, performing arts, and many different exercises. They focus on prevention of injuries by providing athletes with essential medical advice and safe exercise and stretching routines. They often treat bone, joint, and muscle injuries and many also treat lung and cardiac conditions related to athletic activities. They aim to help the athlete return to participating in their sport as soon as possible. Sports medicine doctors often work with other medical professionals such as physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and sports psychologists to develop prevention and treatment plans.

What kind of training does a sports medicine doctor need?

Sports medicine doctors must complete the basic requirements of all doctors: an undergraduate degree in science and Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) and residency requirements. They must also complete a specialty in sports medicine and complete internships and fellowships. Many sports medicine doctors complete internships with hospitals specializing in athletic medicine, professional athletic teams, and sports associations. Many sports medicine doctors specialize in a specific area such as orthopedics, respiratory, cardiac, and internal medicine.

All states require sports medicine doctors to be licensed. Licensing requirements include graduating from an accredited medical school, completing a sports medicine residency program, and receiving a passing score on a licensing examination. Many sports medicine doctors become board certified through the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

What are the prospects for a career as a sports medicine doctor?

Employment of all doctors is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increased participation in sports and fitness related activities and the demand for injury prevention will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be great but with keen competition for positions on professional sports teams. Job openings will also arise to replace sports medicine doctors who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do sports medicine doctors make?

As of October 2009, sports medicine doctors with less than 1 year experience earned average annual salaries between $40,695 and $148,869. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earned average annual salaries between $110,000 and $160,573 (2).

A career as a sports medicine doctor is an excellent choice for individuals who have a strong interest in sports and treating patients to promote their safety and well being when participating in athletic activities. Sports medicine doctors must be self-motivated, quick on their feet, have great eye-hand coordination and have excellent communication. They must also be able to act fast and efficiently in stressful situations.

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