Sports medicine doctors aim to keep athletes healthy, attending to injuries and developing methods of rehabilitation when they occur. They work for a wide range of organizations and individuals, such as professional sports teams, college athletics programs, golfers, tennis players and others. Most sports medicine doctors specialize in the muscles, bones and tendons, which are parts of the body that are prone to injury during competition.
Sports medicine doctors have to be able to quickly diagnose injuries that take place on the playing field or arena, comprehend the severity of it and respond accordingly. Sometimes, they have to apply stitches to an athlete on the spot, or fit the athlete with a splint. In more severe cases they may take an athlete to the locker room for further examination, using medical equipment such as x-ray or MRI machines to make a diagnosis. Sports medicine doctors need the same background as medical doctors in all fields, often with an emphasis on orthopedics. Most also work with athletes when it comes to rehabilitating injuries.
Sports medicine doctors must be calm, and react to emergency situations with confidence. They need to possess strong interpersonal and communication skills, closely listening to what an athlete identifies as a problem (or from where the pain is coming) before reaching a conclusion on their own. They also need to know how to go about diagnosing various injuries, handling athletes with care and making sure they don‘t move too much and cause injuries to become worse.
Becoming a doctor of any sort takes years of schooling, and things are no different for those who wish to work in sports medicine. That includes four years of college, followed by four years of medical school, followed by no less than three years (and up to eight) in a residency program. Once a bachelor’s degree is received, aspiring sports medicine doctors have to apply to medical school, and acceptance can be tasking in its own right. It typically requires letters of recommendation and interviews with an admissions board.
Sports teams and individual athletes will always need someone to help them during times of injury, as well as methods of recovery. Therefore, jobs for sports medicine doctors should always be available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of doctors and physicians in all fields is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2018. Opportunities for sports medicine doctors are likely to experience similar growth.
Sports medicine doctors are among the highest earners in the country. Much of it depends on the athletic program for which they work. According to Salary.com, sports medicine doctors earned a median salary of anywhere from $172,469 to $307,705 per year in November 2009.
- Photo Credit relaxed doctor image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com
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