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Sports Medicine Professional – Education Programs and Career Overview

Majors Overview January 3, 2013

Sports medicine professionals treat, diagnose, and prevent exercise- or sports-related injuries. They may include medical doctors, physical therapists, fitness instructors, and athletic trainers. In this article, you will learn about the educational requirements needed to advance in the sports medicine field.

Sports Medicine Professionals

Sports medicine has many areas of specialization, from the fully trained medical doctor who specializes in cardiac/pulmonary rehabilitation or orthopedic surgery to the athletic trainer who communicates with the athletes on a regular basis. A fitness instructor or athletic trainer can coach athletes on the correct techniques to perform exercises to prevent sports-related injuries. Sub-disciplines and areas on might pursue for a career in sports medicine can include the following:

•Sports medicine research
•Occupational therapy
•Massage therapy
•Sport nutrition/dietetics
•Physical therapy
•Exercise physiology

Sports Medicine Professionals Educational Requirements

Most schools offer courses and degrees in sports medicine. Individuals may earn an associate or bachelor degree to become an exercise instructor, athletic trainer, or personal trainer. Once students have earned their certification or degree from an accredited school, they can start working at colleges or universities, gymnasiums, and fitness centers.

Students who are pursuing a master degree program in physical therapy can choose to specialize in sports medicine. Specialization covers lab instruction, hands-on practice on patients, and supervised clinical practice. Students who want to conduct research on sports medicine should consider pursuing a doctorate program. To concentrate on treating sports related injuries, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) may do a specialized residency in sports medicine after passing a national licensure exam and completing an accredited medical school program.

Program Coursework

Sports medicine associate degree program coursework varies by specialization and degree level. The courses in an athletic training program will include biomechanics, conditioning, sports nutrition, and anatomy. A bachelor degree program in fitness technology and sports medicine can include courses in strength training, substance abuse, applied kinesiology, exercise leadership, and athletic injury prevention. Students who are enrolled in a master degree program in exercise physiology may take courses in cardiac rehabilitation, statistical interpretation, clinical exercise physiology, and electrocardiography. Courses within a Ph.D. program in rehabilitation science may include disability epidemiology, rehabilitation biomechanics, eating disorders in athletes, and exercise physiology.


Certification requirements will vary depending on the professional field. Surgeons and sports medicine physicians may join organizations such as the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM – and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM – These organizations provide a forum for medical professionals in sports medicine to communication and advance in the field through research and education. Additionally, the organizations also provide certification and fellowships. Organizations such as the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA – and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM – certify personal trainers.

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