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Skills and Education Background Required for a Fruitful Career in Sports Medicine - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

Sports medicine is one of those rare careers that combine the novelty and excitement of past-time passions with the necessity of advanced education. For those few people who can work hard enough, study enough, and pass challenging exams, sports medicine can become a very fulfilling and enjoyable career path. Just as with any career path, however, there are certain steps that need to be taken in order to appropriately qualify for the certifications necessary to become a professional, but even then there are skill sets that can take someone from merely competent to successful.

The following is a brief overview of what education is needed to become a sports medicine professional and some skill sets that will help to support and foster a fruitful career.

Educational Steps for Becoming a Sports Medicine Doctor

As with most educational paths in the medical field, mass amounts of schooling are standard. However, whereas becoming an NP only takes a few years, becoming a sports medicine professional is a long, intense process, often requiring around 12 years' worth of education past high school. Luckily, the path to trace has been well worn and is clear to follow.

The first step is to enroll in a bachelor's program. From here, understanding the different paths -like the difference between pursuing a MSN or DNP- will help to sort through the coursework to take.

While most medical schools do not have specific undergraduate degree requirements, many students choose to do their undergraduate work in a field makes has a good amount of overlap with medicine, so coursework in biology, chemistry, or pre-med make the most sense.

After this, students must take and pass the MCAT (Medical College Achievement Test) before being accepted, attending, and completing medical school. Four years of medical school, along with two years' worth of clinical rotations leads to the next step: Residency.

There are also multiple paths to choose from here, but the timeline is about the same typically, three to five years. Those physicians who are still interested in sports medicine will also need to complete a one-to-two year sports medicine fellowship wherein the final and very specific work in this field leads to nuanced preparation for the work. Despite all this, there is still a final medical examination and licensure that needs to be obtained before truly becoming qualified.

sports medicine doctor

Skills for a Fruitful Career in Sports Medicine

Strong Communication Skills

As with any career in medicine, there will be a near constant need for the ability to communicate consistently and clearly. This goes for talking with patients- relaying what may often be complicated medical diagnoses in simple, easy to understand terms- to working in tangent with other medical professionals of various departments and fields.

Therefore, knowledge not just of complicated medical terminology, but of foundational principles in human communication will come in handy. Most of that later part just needs to be picked up and practiced interpersonally over the years because the bulk of coursework is going to focus on the latter.

An Eye for Details

Medicine requires a sharp mind and keen observation skills. An eye for detail is crucial in sports medicine so that the diagnosis is accurate. This is the only way to properly treat injuries, monitor progress, and prevent future relapses. A meticulousness in assessments and treatment plans will be the difference between a successful treatment and recovery plan or drawn out, painful livelihood.

Articles by Sarah Daren