Sports medicine doctor working on a male patient's back and shoulder.

3 Places Where Sports Medicine Doctors Work

Sports medicine has recently emerged as one of the popular areas of concentration for those contemplating a career in medicine. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that employment opportunities for athletic trainers are expected to grow by 23% between 2020 and 2030.

A natural question for aspirants to this career path may be where sports medicine doctors work. We attempt to provide some answers to that question in this article.

In this article, we set out to provide three possible answers to the question of where sports medicine doctors work. We shall also briefly explain the attributes that may make someone a good “fit” for each type of setting.

For those curious about sports medicine, we provide some background into its inception as a distinct health care discipline here.

Sports Medicine Clinics

Sports medicine clinics are one of the most popular choices of workplace for sports medicine physicians. In these clinics, they treat both serious and amateur athletes for any sports related injuries they may experience due to physical activity.

Doctors in sports medicine clinics deal primarily with musculoskeletal injuries to amateur or professional. They provide treatment both in the immediate aftermath of the injury and during the recovery stage when the athlete is looking to regain his or her normal level of fitness.

In the recovery stage, sports medicine doctors at these clinics may work closely with other disciplines such as physical therapists and even orthopedic surgeons.

This career path will appeal to those who enjoy taking on a wide variety of challenges from day to day. You must also have a good “bedside manner” and be able to win the confidence of your patient.

It also helps to be a sports enthusiast and to understand the competitive instincts that drive most athletes. You will be working with different clients (with different personalities) every day. It’s therefore important to be able to quickly establish a rapport with your patient.

Sports Teams

Sports medicine doctors may also work as athletic trainers employed by professional, college or other amateur sports teams. As with sports medicine clinics, their role will be treating the athletes on those teams for musculoskeletal injuries due to sports activities.

However, you will find yourself working with a particular group of athletes (i.e. the members of the team) over an extended period.

Doctors employed by sports teams will also work with the athletes on those teams to help prevent injuries among team members.

If you are working with a professional sports team, you need to be prepared to be “on call” at all times. Games or training sessions can frequently take place on holidays and weekends. As such, your presence at these events will be essential in case one of the athletes gets injured during a game and requires emergency care.

As with employment at a sports clinic, it helps to be a sports fan and even to be a supporter of the team that employs you.

Teaching & Research

A teacher with a group of medical students. Colleges and universities can be among the most interesting places where sports medicine doctors work.
Medical colleges and universities can be some of the most rewarding places for sports medicine doctors to work

A third place where some sports medicine doctors work could be a college or university attended by students training to enter the profession. A growing number of colleges and universities (the University of Southern California, for example) offers specialized curricula in sports medicine.

As with other medical specialties, sports medicine doctors involved in teaching will also spend considerable time doing research into new and emerging treatments for sports injuries.

In this role, you may find that less interaction is required with athletes on a daily basis. Instead, most of your daily interactions will tend to be with sports medicine students as well as other teachers and researchers.

This type of work setting requires enthusiasm for mentoring students and helping them develop their professional skills. It also helps to have a thirst for knowledge and willingness to spend plenty of time and energy doing research to expand the boundaries of sports medicine knowledge.

Where Sports Medicine Doctors Work: Conclusion

In this article, we have briefly described three possible places where sports medicine doctors may work. We have also briefly described the key challenges of each work setting and the personal qualities required to overcome these challenges. It is our hope that this information may be valuable to those contemplating a career in sports medicine.

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