Sports Medicine - How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician

Sports Medicine

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Sports Medicine Physician Job Description

 

Primary care sports medicine specialists (PCSMS) work to provide medical care and counseling to physically active people, ranging from amateur fitness enthusiasts to professional athletes. While sports medicine still involves injury treatment, it now also encompasses preventing injuries, boosting performance, and assisting active individuals in maximizing their lifestyle's health benefits, all with the guidance of a primary care sports medicine physician.

Surgical care is one branch of sports medicine, concerned with repairing joint, tendon, and ligament damage, according to the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM). The alternative path, primary care, involves all kinds of health care not involving surgical procedures.

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Responsibilities

 

A primary care sports medicine specialist finds themselves called on to assist with diagnosing and treating sports related injuries, providing advice on athletic conditioning, working to prevent injuries or rehabilitate a patient following one. They even offer nutritional guidance for maximum physical success in people with an active or athletic focus, covering all aspects of keeping physically vigorous people healthy and injury-free.

PCSMS are responsible for developing comprehensive health care plans for an active lifestyle patient. They diagnose and treat sports injuries, monitor activity, and gauge impact on the body.

PCSMS use hands-on techniques to prevent and treat muscular and skeletal conditions common in athletes.

They focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation, and incorporate nutrition, endurance and strength training to support and improve athletic performance. 

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Skills

 

Sports doctors must posses a variety of physical skills since they work in a active, hands-on environment. They also must have great analytical and professional skills, since they are physicians and determine and treat patient injuries and illnesses.

Their skills include, but are not limited to, the following: 

Reasoning

Must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in injuries and determine causes and provide solutions.

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.

Empathy

Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Patience

They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to recovery.

Dexterity

Must work well with your hands and be nimble. You will be put in situations where physical therapy is a must.

Stamina

You work in mostly physical, athletic situations, so you must be able to endure the trying environment and keep up with the people you treat.

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Working Conditions

 

Primary care sports medicine specialists are in greater than ever demand, due to increased focus on physical health, steadily growing enthusiasm for an active lifestyle, and higher public awareness of the benefits of using primary care sports medicine to avoid or, if necessary, treat injuries. A primary care sports physician may work at a private or group practice, accepting all patients, or may be employed by a fitness club, a university sports department, or even a specific athletic team.

Sports medicine specialists also furnish consultative services to athletic trainers, athletic directors, and sports coaches. Their input helps prevent injuries related to vigorous physical activity before they can even happen.

 


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How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician:

 

The academic requirements for a Primary Care Sports Medicine Specialist are somewhat unusual in that there is no specific primary board certification for this specialty. It is a recognized subspecialty, but you must complete three year residency in a recognized specialty first, like: family medicine, emergency medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics.

After your residency, you can pursue a fellowship in sports medicine. The specialist must then pass an exam granting a Sports Medicine Certification of Added Qualification (CAQ), which is accepted as the equivalent of Board Certification in the field.

Traumatic injury treatment, exercise physiology, nutrition, cardiology, emergency treatment, and rehabilitation techniques are all areas the specialist must study and master. Ongoing supplemental coursework is required to maintain CAQ certification. Here are the steps you need to complete:

 

1. Get a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

To become a sports medicine physician, you must first earn your bachelor's degree. It is wise to pick a pre-med program for your undergrad so you get the necessary prerequisites for medical school.  It's important you get a strong background in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Anatomy, as you are studying to become a physician.

You can expect coursework similar to the following:

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology 
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology 
  • Electives

 

2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills. 

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Section/Category  Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Complete a MD or DO Program

 

You have two program choices in medical school to become a sports medicine poctor: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment, but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine. Whichever path you choose, you are facing 4-5 years in medical school.

Your program will focus on the following:

  • Basic pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Medical ethics
  • Pharmacology

In the second half of the program, you will work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to advance your skills and focus in on your practice. 

 

4. Complete a Residency and Fellowship Program in Sports Medicine

 

After medical school, you have to complete your residency. During this time, you will be supervised by other healthcare professionals and get hands on training to build upon your skills and confidence, to allow you independent practice. During your residency, you can expect to work from anywhere to three to five years in a clinical or hospital setting. It's here you can really hone in on your skills and build upon your knowledge.

Because Sports Medicine is a subspecialty, you must get a Certification of Added Qualification (CAQ) in Sports Medicine. You have to complete a two-year fellowship in Sports Medicine, after your residency, in order to get this certification. During your two years, you learn about the different types of athletic-related injuries and all the methods to diagnose and treat them. You have to renew your Certification every 10 years. 

 

5. Earn the Required License & Certification

 

After you complete your residency you have to apply for your Medical License and then, after your two-year fellowship, your Certification of Added Qualification

If you graduate from a MD program, you can take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). If you graduate from a DO program, you can take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA)

Once you get your medical license, you can take the the CAQ through the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). Once you have your certification, you must renew it every ten years. 

 

6. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

 

You need to continue your education to stay up to date on practices and procedures. You will need to have so many CE credits every 3 years and update your CAQ every 10. 

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
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Daviess Community Hospital/Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is seeking an experienced Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant to join our team. This position will be expected to manage the care of patients who suffer from a range of...
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