Jobs in Sports Medicine

By Michael Rosenthal

If you really want to pursue a career that has limitless opportunities in baseball and all the other major sports as well it would have to be Sports Medicine. Despite the variety of injuries to athletes and the different types of injuries that are common to the individual sport, there is still a great need for doctors and specialists in this career field. Be prepared to endure hours of education, long periods of internship, being licensed and insured against legal liabilities, and much more. This is not for the faint at heart and will require a lot of determination and stamina on your behalf.

The primary focus of the field is the rapid recovery of the patients and then propelling them back into competition again at the same (if not an improved) level that they were competing at prior to being injured. Characteristically, there are five steps on the road to recovery with most sports injuries:

  • diagnosis
  • surgery / treatment
  • recovery / healing
  • rehabilitation
  • re-training / strength conditioning

Those steps above have just presented you with five different career choices in sports medicine. They are referred to as the sports medicine team and they are involved every step of the way during the process that the injured athlete must go through in order to fully recuperate. The team usually consists of the following personnel (career positions):

  • physicians and/or surgeons
  • athletic trainers
  • physical therapists
  • strength conditioners (usually found within the trainers or therapists category)
  • coaches
  • the injured and rehabilitating athlete

Because of the fact that educators, health care professionals, and researchers are also involved, the field has been difficult to define as only a single specialty. The focus becomes threefold so to speak because of the involvement of these personnel in that it's not only curative and rehabilitative (curing and rehabilitating) but also one of prevention. The preventative angle comes into play with coaches and athletic trainers. Their responsibility is to keep you conditioned and help you remain healthy and injury-free.

Though the biggest components of sports medicine are diagnosis, treatment, and rehab, there is also the necessity of knowing what factors cause sports illnesses and injuries. Professionals in this field are well aware that causes can be environmental, physiological, and psychological. And as we have all recently witnessed in baseball, the Mitchell Report just opened the steroids / HGH can of worms. Using supplements, legal or otherwise, is now a huge where health related, legal, and moral issues are concerned.

Having read numerous articles and done quite a bit of research before I tackled this topic, I have found that another area on the prevention side of the field is becoming more prevalent and there will be future career opportunities here as well. There is an intense study occurring in the area of what is called 'neuromuscular adaptations.' Recently, in the soccer world, specific preseason training in this area resulted in ACL tears in the athlete's knees. It would not be surprising to see this become one of the major players in the sports medicine field before long, so keep your eyes peeled.