Sports medicine is a great career for people who love to work with athletes, improve their performance, help them recover from an injury and prevent future injuries. The career path is ripe with future opportunity as well.
This skill set is in demand by everyone from professional athletes to high school and college students to aging adults who still like to be active.
The jobs that immediately come to mind when discussing sports medicine are working directly with athletes as a doctor, trainer or therapist. Many professional teams hire a full staff to support the health and well being of their players. These jobs are great for those that love being as close to the world of sports as possible and want to make an impact in that world.
However, the field is much wider than just doctors and trainers. You don’t have to be interested in professional sports to have a great career in sports medicine.
Alternative Paths to Sports Medicine
Sports medicine deals with far more than professional athletes. In fact, professional sports are only a fraction of what makes up sports medicine. According to John Hopkins, approximately 30 million children participate in sports-related activities (such as basketball, football, biking, running and even jumping on trampolines) each year. Of these, 3.5 million are injured during the course of these activities. Injuries range from sprains and cuts to concussions and serious fractures.
There are thousands of health care facilities around the country to treat these injuries. These facilities need far more than doctors and physical therapists interested in sports medicine. They need a full staff of registered nurses, administrators, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners and more.
Many healthcare professionals find themselves treating these sports-related injuries and it sparks an interest in the field of sports medicine. Nurses, for instance, may find fulfillment in seeing an adolescent recover after a serious sports-related injury. If you fall in this category a career in sports medicine could be your calling.
Professionals in this position have tremendous opportunity to further specialize and find jobs specifically within the sports medicine field. Those willing to further their education stand a better chance of landing a top level sports medicine job.
How to Get the Training You Need
Many universities and medical schools offer programs that cater specifically to sports medicine. They focus on classroom education in kinesiology, sports psychology, nutrition, exercise physiology and more. Schools then supplement in-class teachings with experience in the medical field and give them the education they need to treat sports-related health issues.
If there isn’t a sports medicine program near you, many universities offer programs entirely online. Gwynedd Mercy University is a nursing school in Philadelphia that offers graduate nursing programs online. There are dozens of universities that offer similar programs. Don’t let the lack of a local program stop you.
If you have a sufficient education, but are still struggling to get your foot in the door at a sports medicine clinic, consider finding an internship. You may have to swallow your pride, especially if you have several years of experience. But, if you’re passionate about sports medicine, you may have to step outside of your comfort zone to get into the industry and this is a great way to do it.
Sports medicine is a fantastic area of focus in the medical community. It helps people recover from injury to do what they love, and professionals in the industry have tremendous opportunity as the field continues to grow.