How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician (No Pain, All Gain!)

how to become a sports medicine physician

If you’ve ever been captivated by the idea of helping athletes reach their peak potential or wondered what it takes to become a sports medicine physician, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the EXACT steps you need to follow to kickstart your career as a sports medicine physician. We’ll discuss:

  • The skills you need to master.
  • The education that can guide your journey.
  • How to secure a job as a sports medicine physician.

So, whether you’re a medical novice or a healthcare professional looking to specialize, stay tuned.

We’re about to unveil the roadmap to becoming a sports medicine physician.

Let’s get the ball rolling!

Contents show

Steps to Become a Sports Medicine Physician


Step 1: Research the Profession

The first step to becoming a Sports Medicine Physician is to understand the scope of the profession.

This includes understanding the day-to-day responsibilities, skills required, work environment, and potential career growth.

Sports Medicine Physicians are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and preventing sports or exercise-related injuries.

They work with athletes of all ages, from children to professional sportspeople, to help them perform at their best, recover from injuries, and prevent future health problems.

They typically work in clinics, hospitals, or educational institutions such as colleges and universities.

In some cases, they may also work directly with sports teams or organizations.

The career growth for a Sports Medicine Physician can lead to positions such as head team physician for professional sports teams, director of sports medicine at a hospital or clinic, or working as a professor in a medical school.

Understanding these aspects of the profession will help you to decide if this is the right career path for you, and will also guide your decisions as you progress in your education and training.


Step 2: Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become a sports medicine physician, the first major step after high school is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.

This degree can be in any field but it’s often beneficial to choose a science-related major, such as biology, chemistry, or biochemistry, as these fields cover the prerequisite courses required for medical school admissions.

During your undergraduate studies, focus on maintaining a high GPA as this is one of the key factors in getting into medical school.

Alongside your academic work, try to gain some experience in the medical field, either through volunteering, internships or shadowing a practicing physician.

It’s also helpful to engage in extracurricular activities that show your leadership skills, teamwork, and dedication to the medical profession.

You also need to prepare for and take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), typically in your junior or senior year.

This test is a crucial part of the medical school application and a strong score can enhance your chances of admission.

Remember, becoming a sports medicine physician is a long journey, and pursuing a Bachelor’s degree is only the first step.

It’s essential to stay motivated and committed to your goal throughout this process.


Step 3: Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

After completing a bachelor’s degree, the next step is taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The MCAT is a standardized examination that is widely accepted by medical schools in the U.S. and Canada.

The exam tests your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.

To excel in the MCAT, you will need to prepare thoroughly.

There are many resources available to help you study, including textbooks, online courses, and study groups.

The test covers biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.

Getting a high score on the MCAT can greatly improve your chances of getting into a quality medical school.

It’s advisable to take the test when you feel prepared, usually after the completion of the necessary undergraduate coursework.

After passing the MCAT, you’ll be eligible to apply for medical school where you’ll need to focus on general medical training before you can specialize in sports medicine.


Step 4: Earn a Medical Degree (MD or DO)

After completing your undergraduate education, the next step to becoming a Sports Medicine Physician is to earn a medical degree.

You can either earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).

Both MDs and DOs can practice medicine, but there are some philosophical differences in the approach to patient care between the two.

Medical school usually takes four years to complete.

The first two years are typically spent in classrooms and labs studying anatomy, biochemistry, psychology, and other medical sciences.

The last two years are generally devoted to working with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics, often as part of a team.

During medical school, you should begin to orient your studies towards the field of sports medicine.

This can involve selecting courses or clinical rotations that expose you to orthopedics, rehabilitation, and injury prevention.

Upon completion of medical school, you will need to pass a licensing exam to practice medicine.

After obtaining your license, you should pursue a residency program in either Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, or Pediatrics.

This is typically a three-year program where you will gain hands-on experience in a specific field of medicine.

This will serve as the foundation for your future specialization in sports medicine.


Step 5: Complete a Residency Program

After graduating from medical school, aspiring Sports Medicine Physicians need to complete a residency program.

This is an intensive training period that typically lasts for about 3-5 years, depending on the specialty area.

During the residency program, you’ll gain hands-on experience in general medicine or a specific area of interest like Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, or Emergency Medicine.

This is a critical phase, as you’ll be working directly with patients, diagnosing and treating injuries and illnesses under the supervision of experienced physicians.

Throughout your residency, you will rotate through various medical specialties to gain a broad understanding of different areas of medicine.

This will also help you decide on a specialty if you haven’t chosen one already.

Additionally, you will also attend lectures and seminars, engage in ongoing medical research, and learn to use the latest medical technology.

After successfully completing the residency program, you may choose to pursue a fellowship in Sports Medicine.

This will allow you to further specialize in treating athletes and individuals who lead active lives, focusing on areas such as nutrition, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention.


Step 6: Obtain Licensure

To legally practice medicine in the United States, all doctors, including sports medicine physicians, must obtain a medical license.

This is usually obtained after the completion of medical school and residency training.

The first step in obtaining licensure is passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) if you attended an osteopathic medical school.

This is a three-part examination that tests the knowledge and skills required to practice medicine safely and effectively.

After successfully passing the exam, you can apply for licensure through your state’s medical board.

The specific requirements can vary by state, but most require proof of education, completion of a residency program, and passing the USMLE or COMLEX.

Some states might require additional exams or background checks.

After obtaining a general medical license, those wishing to specialize in sports medicine may choose to pursue board certification in sports medicine.

This involves additional training and exams, but can open up more career opportunities and higher salaries.

Remember, maintaining licensure and certification usually involves continuing education to ensure that physicians are up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field.


Step 7: Undertake a Fellowship in Sports Medicine

After completing your residency, the next step to becoming a Sports Medicine Physician is undertaking a fellowship in sports medicine.

Fellowships offer specialized training beyond what is provided during residency.

It is usually a one or two-year commitment where you gain hands-on experience working with patients in a sports medicine setting.

During a sports medicine fellowship, you will be trained in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries related to sports and exercise.

This may include understanding the impact of lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition on the body.

You will also learn how to develop treatment plans and rehabilitation programs for athletes and individuals who lead active lifestyles.

You may work in various settings such as hospitals, clinics, sports teams, or rehabilitation facilities.

You will also have the opportunity to work with a variety of patients from different age groups and athletic backgrounds, ranging from professional athletes to individuals who enjoy sports and physical activity.

Gaining this specialized experience is critical to becoming a well-rounded Sports Medicine Physician.

It will not only enhance your knowledge and skills but also increase your credibility in the field.

This will make you more attractive to potential employers and open up more opportunities for career advancement.

Remember, fellowship programs are competitive, so having a strong academic record and excellent recommendations from your residency can increase your chances of being accepted into a program.


Step 8: Become Board Certified in Sports Medicine

After completing your residency and fellowship, the next crucial step in your journey to becoming a Sports Medicine Physician is to become board certified in sports medicine.

This validation by a governing body demonstrates your understanding, skills, and commitment to the field.

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), and the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) all offer a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in sports medicine.

To earn this certification, you will have to pass a rigorous examination that covers all aspects of sports medicine – from injury prevention to treatment.

Keep in mind, to be eligible to take the sports medicine certification examination, you must first be certified in a primary specialty such as Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, or Emergency Medicine.

Moreover, maintaining your certification is also crucial for your career growth.

This involves ongoing learning and periodic re-examination to ensure you are up-to-date with the evolving field of sports medicine.

Remember, being board-certified not only boosts your credibility but also opens up more job opportunities and allows for professional growth.


Step 9: Gain Experience in the Field

After completing your residency and fellowship, it’s time to start gaining hands-on experience as a Sports Medicine Physician.

This involves treating athletes and patients who participate in sports activities and have suffered from sports-related injuries.

You may also get the chance to work as a team physician for local high school, college, or professional sports teams.

In the beginning, you may work under the supervision of an experienced sports medicine physician.

This real-world experience will help you to understand the practical aspects of treating sports-related injuries, such as conducting physical examinations, diagnosing injuries, developing treatment plans, and performing surgeries if required.

During this phase, continuing education is also crucial to keep up with the latest developments and techniques in sports medicine.

This might include attending workshops, seminars, or conferences, or even completing additional training programs.

Moreover, building strong relationships with athletes, coaches, trainers, and other healthcare professionals can also be beneficial for your career advancement.

This networking can lead to more opportunities to work with sports teams or athletes and can help you to build a strong reputation in the field.

Remember, becoming proficient in sports medicine is a journey that involves continuous learning and practice.

So, make the most out of every opportunity to hone your skills and knowledge in the field.


Step 10: Join Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations as a sports medicine physician provides a great opportunity to network with other professionals in your field, learn from their experiences, and stay up-to-date on the latest research and developments in sports medicine.

There are numerous organizations dedicated to sports medicine, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

Becoming a member of these organizations usually involves an annual fee, but it provides access to member-only resources like webinars, journals, and conferences.

These organizations also offer opportunities for continuous learning and certification.

By attending conferences, you can learn from leading experts in the field, discuss cases, and get new ideas that can improve your practice.

Joining a professional organization also establishes credibility as it demonstrates your commitment to the profession.

It can also provide opportunities for leadership roles within the organization, which can further boost your reputation and career.

So, don’t underestimate the benefits of becoming a member of professional sports medicine organizations, it is a significant step towards a successful career in this field.


Step 11: Stay Current with Continuing Education

As a Sports Medicine Physician, it’s essential to continue learning even after you’ve earned your degree and established your practice.

Medicine is a field that constantly evolves, with new research, techniques, and technologies emerging frequently.

Therefore, being up to date with these advancements will not only ensure that you provide the best care to your patients but also keep you ahead in your profession.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses are usually recommended or required for maintaining your certification or license.

These courses are designed to help you learn about new developments and current trends in sports medicine.

In addition to CME, attending seminars, workshops, and conferences related to sports medicine can also provide you with opportunities for learning and networking.

This can offer you insight into the latest research findings and treatment methods, as well as a chance to meet and collaborate with other professionals in your field.

You can also consider subscribing to medical journals and joining professional organizations related to sports medicine.

These platforms not only provide a wealth of information but also give you the opportunity to contribute to the field by publishing your own research and findings.

Remember, continual learning is a cornerstone of medical practice.

By staying current with continuing education, you can provide the best possible care to your patients and enjoy a successful and fulfilling career as a Sports Medicine Physician.


Step 12: Build a Network in Sports Medicine and Athletics

Building a strong network is key for a successful career as a sports medicine physician.

Networking allows you to establish relationships with other professionals in your field, share experiences, gain insights, and discover potential job opportunities.

You can start networking in medical school, during your residency, and fellowship by connecting with your peers, professors, and mentors.

Attending sports medicine conferences, seminars, and workshops is another great way to meet and connect with other professionals in your field.

Additionally, build relationships with people in the athletics field, such as coaches, trainers, and athletes.

They can provide valuable insights into the physical demands and medical needs of athletes.

Engage with local sports teams or sports organizations, offering your medical expertise.

Also, consider joining professional organizations like the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM).

These organizations offer resources, education, and networking opportunities.

Remember, networking is a two-way street.

Be ready to offer support, advice, or information when others in your network need it.

This helps to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships.

The connections you make can provide valuable references, partnerships, and even job opportunities in the future.

So, always maintain and nurture your network, and remember to return the favor when someone else needs your help.


Step 13: Explore Job Opportunities

After completing your fellowship in sports medicine and obtaining the necessary board certification, you’re ready to start exploring job opportunities.

You can choose to work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, sports medicine clinics, universities, or professional sports teams.

Consider your career goals, personal interests, and the lifestyle you want when you’re looking for jobs.

You might want to work in a high-pressure, high-reward environment like professional sports, or you might prefer a more predictable schedule working in a clinic or hospital.

Keep in mind that networking plays a vital role in the medical field.

Attending industry conferences, joining professional associations such as the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), and reaching out to professionals in your field can help you discover job openings and opportunities that might not be publicly advertised.

Additionally, you should tailor your resume and cover letter to each specific job you apply for, highlighting your experience in sports medicine, any research you’ve done, and any special skills you have, like a second language.

Remember, your first job will not necessarily be your dream job, but it can be a stepping stone towards it, providing you with the necessary experience and professional contacts.


Step 14: Develop Interdisciplinary Collaboration Skills

In the field of sports medicine, you’re likely to work with a diverse team of healthcare professionals including physical therapists, athletic trainers, and orthopedic surgeons.

This necessitates the development of excellent interdisciplinary collaboration skills.

Interdisciplinary collaboration refers to the ability to work seamlessly within a team of experts from diverse fields.

This means understanding the roles and responsibilities of each team member, effectively communicating your ideas and patient evaluations, and being open to the perspectives of others.

There are various ways to develop these skills.

You may participate in workshops or seminars that focus on team-building and communication.

It’s also beneficial to gain experience working in diverse teams during your residency or fellowship, where you’ll naturally learn to cooperate and coordinate with others.

Remember that good collaboration leads to more comprehensive patient care.

In a field like sports medicine, where holistic treatment is paramount, your ability to collaborate effectively could directly impact the success of your patient’s recovery.


Step 15: Stay Updated with Continuing Education

As a sports medicine physician, it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest advancements and research in the field.

This involves participating in continuing medical education (CME) to learn about new treatment protocols, surgical techniques, and technology.

Most states require physicians to complete a certain number of CME hours for license renewal.

However, beyond this requirement, consistent learning and development will ensure you provide the best care to your patients and stay competitive in your field.

You may choose to attend workshops, seminars, or conferences, or take online courses.

Additionally, joining professional organizations, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), can provide opportunities for networking, learning, and even contributing to the field through research and presentations.


Step 15: Consider Subspecializing or Additional Certifications

As a Sports Medicine Physician, you have the option to further specialize in a certain area of sports medicine or obtain additional certifications.

This could include focusing on a specific population like athletes in particular sports or addressing specific injuries or conditions common in athletic populations.

For example, you may want to focus on treating runners and their unique set of injuries and conditions, or you may be interested in working with professional athletes and teams.

Alternatively, you might choose to specialize in pediatric sports medicine, working with children and teenagers who are active in sports.

Furthermore, additional certifications can also boost your career.

Certifications in areas such as orthopedic surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, or physical medicine and rehabilitation can greatly expand your scope of practice and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Pursuing a subspecialty or additional certifications requires further education and training, so it’s important to carefully consider your interests and career goals before making this decision.

As with any career decision, it’s also important to weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks, including time commitment, financial investment, and potential career advancement opportunities.

Remember, the goal is to choose a path that aligns with your passions and long-term career goals in the sports medicine field.

This additional specialization or certification can help you stand out in your field, provide a higher level of care to your patients, and potentially lead to a more rewarding career.



Sports Medicine Physician Roles and Responsibilities

Sports Medicine Physicians are specialized doctors who provide medical care and treatment for people who are involved in physical activities, especially professional athletes.

They play a crucial role in preventing injuries, providing immediate care, and rehabilitating patients to their optimal health.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Patient Assessment

  • Evaluate the physical condition of athletes to determine their readiness for participation in a particular sport.
  • Conduct medical examinations and assessments to diagnose injuries.
  • Use medical imaging techniques to assist in diagnosis.


Immediate Care

  • Provide immediate medical care for acute sports-related injuries.
  • Stabilize the patient’s condition in case of severe injuries.


Treatment and Rehabilitation

  • Design, supervise and modify rehabilitation programs for athletes and patients.
  • Administer non-surgical medical treatments to restore function and reduce pain.
  • Prescribe medication for patients as necessary.


Injury Prevention

  • Advise athletes on how to avoid injuries and illness while training and competing.
  • Develop exercise programs to improve strength and flexibility.



  • Work closely with other professionals, such as physiotherapists, coaches, and trainers.
  • Coordinate with surgeons for cases requiring surgical intervention.


Educational Responsibilities

  • Educate athletes, coaches, and parents about the importance of safety in sports.
  • Conduct workshops and training sessions on injury prevention and management.



  • Participate in research projects related to sports medicine.
  • Stay up-to-date with advancements in the field of sports medicine.



  • Maintain detailed medical records for patients.
  • Document treatment plans, rehabilitation progress, and any changes in a patient’s condition.



  • Effectively communicate diagnosis, treatment plans, and preventive measures to patients and their families.
  • Coordinate with patients’ primary care physicians or other specialists as necessary.


Professional Development

  • Attend professional conferences and workshops for continuous learning.
  • Stay current with the latest research and advancements in sports medicine.


What Does a Sports Medicine Physician Do?

Sports Medicine Physicians are specialized healthcare professionals who work primarily with athletes and those involved in physical activity.

Their primary responsibility is to prevent, diagnose, and treat sports and exercise-related injuries.

This includes sprains, fractures, ligament tears, and conditions like asthma that can impact an athlete’s performance.

They provide medical care during sports events and are often on standby to administer immediate medical attention in case of injuries sustained during the game.

Sports Medicine Physicians also develop and implement rehabilitation programs for injured athletes to help them regain their full functionality and return to sports safely.

They frequently work in a team with other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, orthopedic surgeons, and nutritionists to ensure a holistic approach to an athlete’s well-being.

Moreover, they counsel athletes on nutrition, substances to avoid for anti-doping regulations, and ways to optimize physical performance.

They also conduct research in the field of sports medicine, aiming to enhance knowledge, treatment, and prevention of sports-related injuries and conditions.


Essential Sports Medicine Physician Skills

  • Medical Knowledge: Sports medicine physicians need a deep understanding of the human body, especially relating to sports injuries. They should be knowledgeable about a wide range of conditions, injuries, and treatments.
  • Diagnosis: The ability to accurately diagnose patients is vital. This includes understanding symptoms, conducting tests, and interpreting test results to determine the best course of treatment.
  • Rehabilitation: Sports medicine physicians should be proficient in designing and implementing rehabilitation programs. This involves tailoring exercise routines to help athletes recover and regain their full potential.
  • Communication: Good communication skills are essential to explain diagnoses, treatments, and preventative measures to patients. They should be able to simplify complex medical jargon for better patient understanding.
  • Teamwork: Often working as part of a multidisciplinary team, sports medicine physicians need to collaborate effectively with other healthcare providers, including physiotherapists, dieticians, and surgeons.
  • Emergency Care: An understanding of immediate care techniques is crucial, especially during sports events where injuries may occur. They should be equipped with the skills to provide first aid and emergency treatment.
  • Surgery: Depending on the severity of the sports injury, a sports medicine physician may need to perform surgical procedures. Therefore, they should have the necessary surgical skills and knowledge.
  • Prevention Strategies: A significant part of a sports medicine physician’s role is to provide advice and strategies to prevent injuries. This involves understanding the dynamics of different sports and the common injuries associated with them.
  • Physical Fitness Assessment: They should be able to evaluate an athlete’s physical fitness and provide recommendations to enhance performance and reduce injury risk.
  • Pain Management: Sports medicine physicians must be knowledgeable about managing pain, including understanding different pain management techniques and medications.
  • Patience: Recovery from sports injuries can be a lengthy process. Therefore, sports medicine physicians should be patient, providing emotional support and encouragement to their patients throughout their recovery journey.
  • Research: A commitment to ongoing research is important in order to stay updated with the latest treatments, techniques, and advancements in sports medicine.
  • Leadership: Often leading a team of healthcare providers, sports medicine physicians should possess leadership skills to manage and coordinate the team effectively.
  • Physical Stamina: The role often involves long hours and the need to be on one’s feet for extended periods. Therefore, physical endurance is crucial.
  • Decision Making: The ability to make quick, informed decisions is vital, especially in emergency situations where immediate action could make a significant difference to a patient’s health or recovery.


Sports Medicine Physician Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Resident in Sports Medicine

Your journey as a Sports Medicine Physician typically begins with a residency in sports medicine after obtaining your medical degree.

At this stage, you are learning about the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries.

Your responsibilities may include patient consultations, physical examinations, and assisting in surgeries.

Here are some tips for success in this role:

  1. Continual Learning: Stay up-to-date with the latest research and advancements in sports medicine.
  2. Mentorship: Seek guidance from seasoned sports medicine physicians and surgeons, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
  3. Hands-on Experience: Obtain as much hands-on experience as possible, particularly in sports surgeries and rehabilitation.


The Ascent: Sports Medicine Physician

After completing your residency and obtaining board certification, you’ll transition into the role of a Sports Medicine Physician.

You’ll take on more complex cases, perform surgeries, and have more autonomy in treating patients.

Here’s how to thrive in this stage:

  1. Problem Solving: Hone your problem-solving skills by handling complex injury cases and finding effective treatments.
  2. Teamwork: Work collaboratively with athletic trainers, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals for holistic patient care.
  3. Communication: Communicate effectively with patients, helping them understand their condition and treatment options.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Sports Medicine Physician

The next stage is the Senior Sports Medicine Physician position.

At this level, you’ll be recognized for your expertise and may take on leadership roles, guide treatment decisions, and oversee other physicians.

To excel as a Senior Sports Medicine Physician:

  1. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and experience with less experienced physicians.
  2. Leadership: Lead by example and inspire others with your medical expertise and commitment to patient care.
  3. Research: Stay at the forefront of sports medicine by participating in or initiating research studies.


Beyond the Horizon: Department Head and Beyond

As your career progresses, you may transition into a leadership role such as Head of Sports Medicine Department or Director of Sports Medicine.

These roles involve greater responsibilities, leadership, and strategic decision-making.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Administrative Skills: Develop management and administrative skills to guide your department effectively.
  2. Policy Implementation: Ensure the implementation of best practices and protocols within your department.
  3. Innovation: Encourage research and innovation to improve patient outcomes and advance the field of sports medicine.


Pinnacle of Success: Chief Medical Officer or Medical Director

At the highest level, you may become a Chief Medical Officer or Medical Director, where you’ll be responsible for the overall medical strategy of a healthcare organization, hospital, or sports team.

You’ll make critical decisions, manage large teams of healthcare professionals, and have a significant impact on patient care and outcomes.


Sports Medicine Physician Salary

Entry-Level Sports Medicine Physician

  • Median Salary: $150,000 – $200,000 per year
  • Entry-level sports medicine physicians typically have 0-2 years of experience and have completed a residency in primary care or orthopedic surgery followed by a sports medicine fellowship.


Mid-Level Sports Medicine Physician

  • Median Salary: $200,000 – $260,000 per year
  • Mid-level sports medicine physicians have 2-5 years of experience and often take on more complex cases, including surgeries, in addition to non-operative treatments.


Senior Sports Medicine Physician

  • Median Salary: $260,000 – $320,000 per year
  • Senior sports medicine physicians possess 5+ years of experience and often take on leadership roles within their practices or medical teams, while also treating complex cases.


Lead Sports Medicine Physician / Sports Medicine Director

  • Median Salary: $320,000 – $400,000+ per year
  • These roles come with significant experience and often involve managing a team of physicians, making key decisions related to patient care, and possibly serving as the primary doctor for a professional sports team or athletic organization.


Chief of Sports Medicine / Head Team Physician

  • Median Salary: $400,000 – $600,000+ per year
  • These high-level positions require extensive experience and deep expertise in sports medicine, often overseeing the medical care of athletes at all levels, from amateur to professional, and setting health and wellness strategies for athletic organizations.


Sports Medicine Physician Work Environment

Sports Medicine Physicians primarily work in hospitals, clinics, and sports rehabilitation centers.

They may also work directly with sports teams or athletes, providing on-site care during training sessions and competitions.

Their work usually involves a combination of office-based work, where they consult with patients, and practical work in a sports or rehabilitation facility where they supervise or implement treatment plans.

Sports Medicine Physicians often have to travel, especially if they’re associated with a sports team that competes at different locations.

They generally work full-time and may need to work during evenings or weekends depending on the schedule of the athletes they are caring for.

As they gain more experience and build a reputation in the field, Sports Medicine Physicians may choose to start their own practice or become consultants.


FAQs About Becoming a Sports Medicine Physician

What is needed to become a sports medicine physician?

To become a sports medicine physician, you typically need to obtain a bachelor’s degree, followed by a four-year medical degree from an accredited institution.

After this, a residency program in family medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics is usually pursued.

This is followed by a fellowship in sports medicine for specialized training.

Key skills include proficiency in diagnosing and treating sports-related injuries, understanding of exercise physiology, knowledge of nutrition, and strong interpersonal skills to communicate effectively with patients and their families.


How long does it take to be a sports medicine physician?

The length of time it takes to become a sports medicine physician can vary, but typically it takes about 11 to 16 years.

This includes four years for a bachelor’s degree, four years for a medical degree, 3 to 7 years for residency, and 1 to 2 years for a sports medicine fellowship.


Can I be a sports medicine physician without a medical degree?

No, a medical degree is a requirement to become a sports medicine physician.

This is because sports medicine physicians are medical doctors specialized in treating sports-related injuries and conditions, and prescribing treatments, therapies and, when necessary, medications.


Is being a sports medicine physician a stressful job?

Being a sports medicine physician can be stressful at times, as it often involves high-stakes decision making, managing injuries of athletes who may be under pressure to return to play, and maintaining up-to-date knowledge in a rapidly advancing field.

However, many physicians find the job rewarding and enjoy the opportunity to contribute to an athlete’s career, health, and well-being.


What are the prospects for sports medicine physicians in the next decade?

The prospects for sports medicine physicians are promising in the next decade.

With an increasing number of people participating in sports and physical activities, the demand for professionals who can treat sports-related injuries and help optimize athletic performance is expected to grow.

Furthermore, advancements in technology and treatment methods are likely to open new opportunities in this field.



And there you have it.

Venturing into the world of becoming a sports medicine physician is no small endeavor, but it’s undeniably fulfilling.

Equipped with the right knowledge, training, and perseverance, you’re well on your path to making a significant impact in the field of sports medicine.

Remember, the journey may be demanding, but the opportunities are boundless. Your contributions could lead to the next major breakthrough that revolutionizes how we approach sports health and performance.

So, take that first stride. Immerse yourself in extensive study. Connect with industry professionals. And most importantly, never stop practicing.

Because the world of sports is waiting for what you can achieve.

And if you’re seeking personalized advice on initiating or progressing your career in sports medicine, check out our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is designed to provide bespoke advice and resources to help you effectively steer your career path.

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