Sports Medicine is a niche health care field that focuses on preventing and treating injuries related to sports and exercise. With the culture of sports and working out steadily growing all over India, the practice of Sports Medicine is increasingly becoming a promising career option, especially for those interested in the sphere of fitness and medicine.
Beyond the personal and professional satisfaction of a career treating patients in both hospitals and clinics, sports medicine doctors also enjoy the opportunity of working for professional or college sports teams. In addition to enjoying the games from the sidelines, many of these physicians are even able to travel with the teams between venues.
Not many careers boast such a varied professional landscape, but this variety is just one of the many appealing aspects of becoming a sports medicine physician.
What Does a Sports Medicine Doctor Do?
As a sports medicine doctor, you will diagnose and treat athletes and other active people suffering from a sports-related injury or illness. You will have the opportunity to work with medical professionals such as surgeons, physical therapists, physiologists, nutritionists and coaches to help patients in their recovery.
You may also be asked to come up with ways of preventing injury and promoting health for individuals actively involved in sports and exercise.
Sport and exercise medicine doctors are specialist physicians who have completed medical school, appropriate residency training and then specialize further in sports medicine or ‘sports and exercise medicine’ (the preferred term). Specialization in sports medicine may be a doctor’s first specialty (as in Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Italy).
It may also be a sub-specialty or second specialisation following a specialisation such as physiatry or orthopedic surgery. The various approaches reflect the medical culture in different countries.
Specializing in the treatment of athletes and other physically active individuals, sports and exercise medicine physicians have extensive education in musculoskeletal medicine. SEM doctors treat injuries such as muscle, ligament, tendon and bone problems, but may also treat chronic illnesses that can affect physical performance, such as asthma and diabetes. SEM doctors also advise on managing and preventing injuries.
Specialists in SEM diagnose and treat any medical conditions which regular exercisers or sports persons encounter. The majority of an SEM physician’s time is therefore spent treating musculoskeletal injuries, however other conditions include sports cardiology issues, unexplained underperformance syndrome, exercise-induced asthma, screening for cardiac abnormalities and diabetes in sports. In addition team physicians working in elite sports often play a role in performance medicine, whereby an athletes’ physiology is monitored, and aberrations corrected, in order to achieve peak physical performance.
SEM consultants also deliver clinical physical activity interventions, negating the burden of disease directly attributable to physical inactivity and the compelling evidence for the effectiveness of exercise in the primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of disease.
Sports medicine physicians are also commonly known as sport physicians or sports medicine doctors. Sports medicine doctors can be of two types, orthopedic surgeons and primary sports medicine doctors. 90% of sports related injuries fall under the primary sports medicine doctors, while only 10% are under orthopedic surgeons.
The main job of a sports medicine physician is to heal and prevent injuries of athletes. Most injuries usually deal with different joints, bones or muscles of the body. Sports physicians may work with other people such as nurses, physical therapists or nutritionists when an athlete is injured.
Sports medicine physicians may also deal with other medical problems that are not sport related in athletes such as asthma, heart problems etc. It is also their job to prevent injuries by promoting a healthy lifestyle and the importance of staying fit.
A regular sports medicine physician usually works in a hospital or office; however some may also operate as team doctors and have extra responsibilities. Before an individual participates in a sport, it is the job of the sports medicine physician to examine the person and determine whether he/she is fit to play.
Sports medicine physicians may sometimes be faced with problems regarding substance abuse in the athletes and may even have to deal with some sports psychology. They also prescribe medicines to injured athletes.
Sports medicine physicians may also research on new methods or techniques to solve sports related injuries.
Sports medicine is not a recognized training program in medical education thus sports medicine physicians must receive the training of a regular doctor, and then specialize in that field. 8 years of higher education need to be completed, after which 3-8 years of an internship or residency must be done before the sports medicine doctor can be qualified.
A license must then be obtained from the country that you wish to practice in. After becoming licensed, the doctor must then complete a sports medicine fellowship program and then pass another exam so that they can become fully qualified as a sports medicine physician.
Characteristics of Successful Sports Medicine Physicians
It is very beneficial to have the following personality traits in order to become successful as a sports medicine physician, and not just one who is mediocre:
• Strong intellect, necessary to successfully complete the rigorous requirements of medical school and continued lifelong learning
• Keen interest in sports
• Confidence; a sports medicine physician’s confidence can instill confidence in their patients
• Physical, intellectual and emotional stamina needed to work long hours
• Emotional strength and maturity
• Able to work effectively with other healthcare practitioners, such as physical therapists
• Enjoy finding solutions to problems
• Empathy for a patient’s physical pain
• Caring, compassionate and kind
• Able to communicate in clear and plain language to the athletes they treat
The eligibility requirement for seeking admission to the Diploma in Sports Medicine course is that candidates must have completed their Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery course with one-year compulsory rotator internship.
The desirable qualification specified by the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports Medicine is that candidates must have completed their MD/MS in surgery/orthopaedics/general medicine/physiology.
In addition, candidates must have obtained permanent registration with the Medical Council of India or any state medical councils or even admitted candidates can obtain the same within one month from the date of admission. In the case of NRI and foreign nationals, they must obtain PG study registration from the Medical Council of India.
Selection of candidates for this course in the institution will be based on the rank obtained by them in the All India Sports Medicine Post Graduate Entrance Test shortly called as SMPGET followed by interview.