How To Become a Sports Medicine Doctor

If you pay attention to detail, have an interest in exercise and want to help people who are injured, you might wonder how to become a sports medicine doctor. A sports medicine doctor is a type of physician who provides medical care to injured athletes. While some sports medicine doctors work with professional athletes, many work with amateur athletes and exercise enthusiasts. Some sports medicine doctors approach the profession from a background in primary care, while others study and train in orthopedic surgery.

As physicians, sports medicine doctors examine patients, diagnose their medical conditions and treat these conditions by performing procedures, providing wound care and prescribing medications. Sports medicine doctors differ from other physicians in that they work primarily with patients who have suffered injuries while competing in sports or exercising. They focus on injuries such as fractured bones and strained or sprained muscles.

Like other types of doctors, sports medicine physicians go through extensive schooling and training before they can practice medicine. Aspiring sports medicine doctors first earn an undergraduate degree from a college or university, typically majoring in a science-related subject such as biology. To apply to medical school, students must take an examination called the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Upon gaining entry into a medical school program, students will spend two years learning anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and ethics in the classroom and an additional two years gaining clinical experience in multiple specialty rotations. Aspiring sports medicine doctors graduate with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree and complete further medical training through residencies in either family practice or orthopedic surgery. They will then enter a one- to two-year sports medicine fellowship or surgical sports medicine fellowship to learn the specialized skills and knowledge they will need to treat injured athletes. Primary care physicians must also take the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in sports medicine examination. Upon completing all of this training and education, sports medicine doctors can obtain a license as well as certification from either the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists and finally begin practicing medicine.

Sports medicine doctors earn a median annual salary of $199,673, according to As a whole, healthcare is a rapidly-growing industry, and physicians can look forward to a positive job outlook. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job opportunities for physicians will increase by 24 percent during the 2010 to 2020 decade. Sports medicine doctors also enjoy the personal satisfaction of knowing that their work helps injured patients get back to their lives, and their favorite sports, as quickly and completely as possible. If you have compassion for people in pain, an interest in science, the dexterity to use your hands to examine patients and perform procedures and a passion for sports, knowing how to become a sports medicine doctor could be your first step toward a rewarding new career in healthcare.

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