Sports Physician

 career as a sports physician

 Sports Physician – Being More Than Just A Doctor

Even though you’ve probably seen them working with your favorite football team or watched documentaries about them you’ve also probably not given much thought to exactly what a sports physician does or how they wind up with that job in the first place, most people think they’re just sports physiotherapists and nothing more.

So we’re going to take an in-depth look at what it takes to become a sports physician, what they actually do for a living and what steps you would need to take to become a sports medicine doctor yourself.

What Is A Sports Physician?

USA ski team sports physicianPut simply a doctor of sports medicine  is a regular physician/doctor who has also undergone specific training which is focused on the areas of fitness, wellbeing and of course sports injuries. A properly trained sports physician will help you prevent injuries from happening in the first place but they’re also there to help put right any sports-related injuries you might suffer so that you get back on your feet, sometimes literally, and back to competing/working as quickly and as safely as possible.

Most people don’t realize that to become a sports physician you already need to be a fully trained doctor in a specialty medical field like ER medicine, family medicine or pediatrics. And even with this full medical training the same physician has to go through an additional 2 years of education and practice in sports medicine.

What Does A Sports Physician Actually Do?

In short this type of doctor prevents, diagnoses and treats musculoskeletal problems without actually operating on them or performing surgery. So a sports injury doctor can work on sprains, strains and fractures as well as other injuries such as tendonitis or other overexertion injuries but they won’t perform any surgery – that’s referred to a sports surgeon instead.

sports injury

Sports medicine doctors focus is on preventing injuries as much as is possible but also working with each patient to rehabilitate them after any injuries that do occur. A lot of people think sports physicians only treat professional athletes but they do also treat “weekend athletes” who are more prone to sports injuries than most. Consulting with a sports medicine doctor is also useful before you take on a new or major exercise program – especially if you haven’t exercised properly in years.

Because a sports injury doctor has been fully trained as a medical doctor and has also completed their residency in a professional hospital they’re capable of treating a wide range of injuries and issues that can crop up during any sporting event. Examples of these are head/brain trauma, joint problems, muscle problems etc.

They’re also trained to help any athlete cope with ongoing health issues such as diabetes or asthma too – in terms of management instead of cure. Another aspect of working as a sports physician would be providing nutritional advice and the creation of exercise and performance enhancement programs for athletes in a wide variety of sports.

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How Do You Become A Sports Physician?

If you’re serious about having a future career as a sports medical doctor then you should start working towards this while you’re still in High School and focus on studying biology, chemistry and math. Your focus should be on keeping your grades (GPA) as high as possible – 4.0 is where you need to be aiming for and ideally a GPA  of 4.5 or higher.

Good grades are one of the keys to being accepted into a good medical school so you can start working towards this career while you’re still a teenager if you wish. After this you’ll then need to apply to a medical school or college of medicine and/or complete pre-Med training after completing a Bachelors degree.

Once you’ve completed medical school you’ll also need to complete your medical residency and internship and then also complete your 1-2 year Sports Physician Fellowship which means you’re looking at a time commitment of between 8 and 10 years on average to fully qualify in this field of medicine.

You’ll also need to sit a separate exam under the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Osteopathic Association and then to apply for a license to practice afterwards. So as you can see becoming a sports physician is actually more difficult than becoming a standard Family Practice doctor for example but also more rewarding in many ways.

worst sport injuries

Where Do Sports Physicians Work?

Almost all national or regional sports teams will have their own “in-house” sports physician to take care of the team. Any team that is going to compete on the national or international stage will need the help of a full-time sports physician during their competitive season. Alternatively you could work in a sports rehabilitation center to help deal with sports injuries from external clients. The one thing you can be certain of is that there will be high demand for your medical skills once you’ve qualified.

How Much Can A Sports Medicine Doctors Earn?

After having spent a decade or more in sports medicine colleges and medical school you would expect that being trained in this type of medicine would reward you well and you’d be completely right. In fact sports physicians can expect to earn around $100,000 per year to start and this will rapidly increase to $200,000+ per year in just a few short years. There are also annual bonuses paid to physicians in this role and these range in value anywhere from $5,000 – $25,000 each year.

If you’re looking for a rewarding career that combines a love of both medicine and sport and one which can also allow you to earn a very healthy sports medicine salary then becoming a sports physician might be the right choice for you.