Article - Degrees for Sports Medicine:

Sports Medicine is the field of study and practice of medical principles relating to the science of sports. It includes:

  • The diagnosis and treatment of sports related injuries.
  • Prevention of sports related injuries.
  • Training and athletic performance, specifically relating to nutrition, exercise and workouts, and sports psychology.
Degrees Necessary to Practice Sports Medicine

A sports medicine specialist has specialized training and education in the medical and therapeutic aspects of sports. Often they are physicians or surgeons, but a medical degree is not always required to work in sports medicine.

A certified athletic trainer, or ATC, specializes in athletic health care. They are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree. This degree may be in athletic training, health, physical education, or exercise science. They also study many other areas, including human anatomy, nutrition, and psychology to name a few.

Certified athletic trainers must pass an examination given by the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification, Inc. Once certified, they use the designation “ATC” and provide immediate emergency care to athletes as well as training in prevention. Some athletic trainers are hired by high schools and are required to teach students.

Associate degrees in sports medicine are offered at some colleges. Students who earn these degrees usually pursue a career as a personal trainer or fitness instructor. Some go on to earn their bachelor’s degree. Most associate degree programs also require an externship.

Bachelor’s degrees in sports medicine are also available. Recipients of these degrees may become employed as athletic trainers or go on to study medicine or surgery. Employees with a bachelor’s degree usually earn more than those with an associate’s degree.

Physical therapy, also known as PT, is another occupation closely related to sports medicine. Those with a degree in PT may be employed to aid in rehabilitation of injured players. Physical therapists must earn a degree from an accredited physical therapy program and pass a licensure examination before they begin practice.

A sports doctor is a fully qualified medical doctor who has chosen to practice sports medicine. This requires a bachelor’s degree in science, or pre-med. Next comes medical school, followed by a residency. The residency period is usually where students choose a specialty. Many sports doctors specialize in orthopedics. A prospective orthopedic must first complete an orthopedic surgery residency, followed by a one to two year surgical sports medicine fellowship program.

The second type of sports medicine doctor is a primary care sports medicine physician. This doctor does not perform surgery. Family medicine is usually the baseline for training, followed by a one to two year sports medicine fellowship program. A primary care doctor must also take the Certificate of Added Qualifications Exam in Sports Medicine, or CAQ.

The field of sports medicine is wide open for those who love sports, medicine, nutrition, fitness, and injury prevention. With the proper training, it is a lucrative and rewarding career with great potential for advancement. In the United States, sports medicine is not a recognized residency-training specialty yet, but other qualification options are available.

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