Resources for Sports Medicine Fellows


Prior to Starting Fellowship (courtesy of AMSSM fellowship field manual)

It may be helpful to talk to your fellowship director and/or coordinator about the following:

  • Program requirements

  • Licensure/hospital privileges

  • Preparation tips

  • Required reading and book suggestions

  • Suggestions on housing location

  • Contact numbers and email for other faculty, staff, and co-fellow/s (if applicable)

  • Ultrasound training during fellowship and any recommended preparation

  • Consider taking a beginner-level ultrasound course (this may be provided if your fellowship attends the AMSSM Fellows conference in late July)

It may also be helpful to discuss with current fellows:

  • Notes, templates, EMR resources, etc

  • Contact information for teams, coaches and athletic trainers

  • Housing and living resources

  • Activities outside of fellowship (gyms, recreation, restaurants)

Contact future co-fellows to discuss:

  • Discuss residency to fellowship transition

  • Fellowship team sharing/assignments

  • Expectations/priorities for fellowship training

  • Prior experience

  • Personal career goals

Primarily, your goal should be to finish residency strong and focus on your primary specialty. You’ll have an entire year to work on your sports medicine and orthopedic skillset. If you wish to continue to prepare for fellowship for the last 6 months, consider the following


Surviving Fellowship

Each fellowship is unique; providing its own challenges as far as orientation and getting started.  Taking the above steps will make your transition smoother. Transitioning to a new electronic medical records can be challenging.  You should expect to be busy during the fall season sports and clinic. If you have co-fellows, it would be wise to make a schedule of things that need covered to ensure no events or didactic lectures are missed.  Providing a coverage schedule is helpful for athletic trainers and to your attendings so they know who to expect or contact if issues arise. Here is an example of the coverage schedule we used (you can make a copy for your own use). This is a document with some generic orthopedic exams you may find helpful and a generic procedure clinic template. We’ve also shared a concussion template and compartment pressure testing template.

Pre-participation physicals are commonly done during your first two months of fellowship. Each state may have its own specific form that needs filled out for high school athletes.  Colleges may have different PPE forms and may also have a different form for returning athletes. You should familiarize yourself with these forms and practice a thorough routine to avoid mistakes.

Most programs will have training rooms for the teams they cover after or during clinic and there may be a bit of traveling involved to get to these. Each training room will likely be different and have different resources available to use.  Getting to know and communicating with the athletic trainers covering the schools is critical to your success as a fellow. They spend much more time with the team than the physician does and they will be seeing the athletes before you while providing coverage during games. Go out of your way to build relationships with your athletic trainers.

Each program is required to have a musculoskeletal ultrasound curriculum (most use AMSSM recommended curriculum).  If you do not have much experience with using the ultrasound, many programs have a portable ultrasound or hours after clinic you can practice your skills.  There are online sports ultrasound didactics available via the AMSSM website.  You can also purchase books to augment your learning (located in the ultrasound & radiology section of book suggestions).

Programs also require at least one scholarly activity and opportunities with vary greatly between fellowships. Most fellows will submit a poster presentation or case presentation (some get selected for podium presentations) to AMSSM or ACSM. The deadlines are typically November - January.  Some fellows may be able to start or help with an ongoing research paper and others will have opportunities to write book chapters.

Clinics and training rooms may slow down some during the winter season depending on which winter sports are covered.  The spring is typically less busy than the fall and winter and you will have a little more time to study for the CAQ and search for jobs.  Fellows tend to interview for jobs in the late winter and spring. AMSSM annual meeting is also an opportunity to inquire about jobs Spring is also the time to sign up for the CAQ, which is offered in July and November.


Job Searching

This will depend on many factors.  When I was interviewing for a job, a wise department chair told me finding a job was like a 3-legged stool. You can choose where you live, choose where you work and choose how much you make but you can't choose all three. The two you do pick will dictate the third. -John

One of the main decisions you will have to make is whether or not you would like to be employed by an academic institution (with fellows, residents, students, etc.) or with a private group.  Academic institutions have more teaching opportunities but traditionally have lower incomes. There also tends to be more networking at institutions due to annual meetings and conferences.

Geography is important for many people and you may have to go through a physician recruiter or have to communicate with practices you are interested in.  This may entail calling these practices or emailing local department chairs. There are typically ranges or incomes throughout the geographic regions of the United States and certain norms in cities.  Incomes in cities are typically less than rural settings.

A third factor is whether you want to practice solely in sports medicine or continue to practice in your primary specialty.  Many times there will be a percentage of your schedule that is split between sports medicine and your other field with the opportunity to increase your time practicing sports medicine as you grow your practice.  The employer may already have a well-established sports medicine program or you may have to start a program with minimal resources. It is important to get this info and communicate expectations during your interviews.

Classifieds in speciality journals and governing body sites will provide lists of job openings.  AMSSM has a career center section in which you can create a profile and submit applications directly from their site.  It is up to date and the best resource to use when looking for career opportunities practicing mostly sports medicine.  ACSM also has a career center section but is less specific for physicians than AMSSM.


Preparing for the Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine (CAQSM)

Introduction. The Sports Medicine Certification Program is jointly developed by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR), and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP).

The examination is administered to candidates from all four boards at the same time in the same testing centers. This is typically either in July or November. ABFM is responsible for administering the examination. The exam includes 200 questions with two 2-hour sections. There are 15 minute breaks sections and exam time typically lasts about 4 hours. It is generally going to be very similar to your USMLE, COMLEX and specialty board exams. ABFM does offer an online tutorial for anyone not familiar with the exam format.

Further content breakdown is based upon the ABFM Sports Medicine Exam Content Breakdown which can be reviewed here in detail here.  

The examination fee is $1300 per the current ABFM candidate booklet. Unfortunately, the other specialties tend to “up charge” to take the exam. For example, as an EM trained physician, Dr Kiel paid a $470 ‘application fee’ and $1555 examination fee to ABEM. If you are lucky and time things right, you can probaly get your employer to cover this cost.

Board Review Books. There are currently two. The AMSSM book is probably the best. ACSM also has a comprehensive review book.

Online Question Banks. There are currently two that we are aware of:

  1. Our question bank, linked here. with over 500 questions written by sports medicine physicians for sports medicine physicians.

  2. Board vitals does have a SM question bank but it is very poor and I would not waste your time (Effective July, 2019 I used it and was very unimpressed for a variety of reasons. They have repeat questions, poorly worded questions, explanations that are wrong or dont make sense and when I gave feedback they kept saying I didnt link to the question)

In Person Review. The Mayo Clinic does over an in person review with Dr Finoff and Dr Laskowski in Minneapolis every June.


Professional Societies (Become a Fellow member)