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Sports Medicine Colleges and Degrees

Sports medicine colleges prepare students for a rewarding career in the field of sports medicine where they may work with athletes, personal trainers and other athletic professionals to diagnose injuries and create a rehabilitation plan for recovery. Sports medicine doctors typically work in a team setting with nutritionists, personal trainers and other health professionals to create a customized plan for each patient. Sports medicine career training also includes an emergency care and treatment component so that the sports medicine professional is well-prepared to treat patients in an emergency setting.

What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is the study of injury prevention, recovery and performance enhancement specifically for athletes. Sports medicine professionals typically work on a one-on-one basis with athletes and fitness coaches to design a healthy lifestyle program and treat any injuries that may occur during training or performance. Sports medicine is not only curative, but also rehabilitative and involves a variety of disciplines such as research, education and diagnoses of various health problems.

Sports medicine professionals are well-trained in the fields of cardiology, rehabilitation medicine, exercise physiology, nutrition and traumatology. They must learn how to diagnose and treat injuries in an emergency situation and help patients recover as quickly as possible so that they can return to their sport.

Sports medicine is recognized as a subspecialty of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and there are approximately 1,000 certified Sports Medicine Specialists in the United States.

Skills Needed for a Sports Medicine Career

Sports medicine professionals must have certain skills to be successful in their career. These include:

  • Ability to work in high-stress environments
  • Ability to work with teams of other health professionals
  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong reasoning and decision making skills
  • Knowledge and confidence to treat a variety of injuries

Career Options with a Sports Medicine Degree

A sports medicine specialist typically pursues a careers a a primary care sports medicine professional or an orthopedist in order to oversee a team of healthcare professionals in an athletic setting. The team of rehabilitation or health professionals assigned to a team of athletes typically includes physical therapists, nutritionists and dietitians, athletic trainers and physiologists.

Sports medicine physicians and doctors are trained to treat and diagnose patients in need of emergency care, internal medicine and rehabilitation. A sports medicine degree program typically covers all of these areas, but those candidates who want to become practicing physicians must complete graduate studies and a fellowship in a subspecialty, and then become board-certified in their chosen field.

What to Expect at Sports Medicine Schools

Sports medicine schools allow students to gain the practical training and classroom education they need to succeed in their sports medicine career. Since most branches of sports medicine require working with patients, conducting assessments and analyzing test results, students typically take on a work-study or training program to fulfill their degree requirements.

Sports medicine schools may offer specialized training in the following fields:

  • Athletic Training
  • Chiropractic
  • Ergonomics
  • Massage Therapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Orthopedics
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Personal Training

Once a student has decided which specialization they would like to pursue, they can pursue a fellowship program to apply their knowledge and develop their skills. Sports medicine schools may help to place students in various training programs in a partnership with the athletic department at the college or university, or off site in a physician's facility or clinical setting. Students typically need to log in a certain amount of hours in order to fulfill this hands-on portion of their sports medicine degree program. A fellowship is required for all students who wish to complete their Master's degree in their field.

Sports Medicine Degree Information: Courses and Programs

Sports medicine degree programs offer a comprehensive education in the fields of personal training, occupational therapy, sports nutrition, psychology and other fields. Since education requirements for sports medical professionals have become more stringent in recent years, most students will need to complete a sports medicine degree at the Master's degree level in order to practice as a sports medicine doctor. A sports medicine degree completed at the Master's degree level includes a specialized residency program typically allows students a chance to receive state certification and licensure.

Students who pursue a sports medicine degree typically complete coursework in:

  • Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Chiropractic Applications
  • Cardiac Rehabilitative Therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Orthopedic Radiology
  • Physiotherapeutic Techniques

Sports Medicine Career Outlook and Salary Information

Career options for sports medicine professionals are plentiful as athletic teams and professional athletes continually need skilled and well-trained medical professionals to help them recover from injuries and improve their performance. According to Salary.com, the typical salary for a Sports Medicine Physician is $230,529 in the United States, and the salary varies significantly depending on the number of years of experience in the field and location of the position.

Related occupations include:

  • Athlete Coaches or Umpires
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  • Gaming and Sports Writers or Researchers
  • Referees or other Sports Officials

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