Building a Resume During Residency.
There is a recipe for building a resume during your residency that will increase your chances for successfully matching into a sports medicine fellowship. However, each resident and applicant is unique and there is more than one way to achieve your goal. Below are some loose guidelines and recommendations about how to spend the first 2 or 3 years of your residency preparing to apply to a primary care sports medicine fellowship. You are strongly encouraged to do as many of the following as possible.
Do an elective rotation in sports medicine. This one is mandatory. Ideally, this is in the second half of your PGY2 year or early in PGY3, a period of time when you become clinically strong but also early enough that you can still get a letter of recommendation. If possible, this should be at a fellowship program associated with your residency or at a fellowship program you are interested in applying to. They should have faculty who have completed the fellowship and passed the CAQ-SM. Two to four weeks is suggested, if you do a two week rotation, you may be able to rotate at more than one program. Review our fellowship list to find places to rotate. Make sure to contact programs early.
Longitudinal coverage of a high school team. This activity is important so that you understand what a sports medicine physician does outside the clinic, you get an understanding of sideline medicine and demonstrate interest in the specialty. If you can start during your intern year that’s best, but we all recognize the time commitments of residency and difficulty in maintaining a consistent, reliable schedule allowing the availability to a high school. This will also help you learn the role of the athletic trainer and give you opportunities to give talks and provide education.
Medical coverage in a mass participation event. This is helpful for learning and exposure as well as demonstrating interest. Any sporting event counts from high school to professional. Make sure to keep a log of your coverage for your application.
Attend a sports medicine conference. The AMSSM annual meeting occurs in April of every year, the ACSM meeting occurs at the end of May and the AOASM annual meeting is in early May every year. There are also regional conferences and other conferences available.
Present a poster at a conference. This is certainly not required, but is encouraged. Presenting a case at a national conference is best done with the help of faculty who can help you identify cases. Finding a good case can be challenging, but doing a literature review and writing up the poster are manageable tasks.
Present a journal club or lecture for your residency program. Every primary care specialty that works in sports medicine can learn from the specialty training we receive. You can improve the knowledge of your medical students, co-residents and even faculty by providing sports medicine education within your program.
Work on a scholarly project. This is not required but encouraged as well. Ideally, you would work on a project that would be publishable in a peer reviewed journal, but this opportunity is going to vary widely depending on where you train. You should ask your sports medicine attendings if there are any opportunities. It doesn’t have to be original research, it can also be review articles. You could also do a QI or educational project in your residency program on a sports medicine topic.
Find a mentor. It’s always helpful to have someone who has gone through the process and practices sports medicine to help act as a resource. Ideally, this would be an attending who can help guide you and eventually provide a letter of recommendation. However, a fellow would also be an appropriate candidate.
Get in a Sports Medicine Track. Within your residency program, there may be an opportunity to participate in different scholarly tracks. If there is a sports medicine track, get involved with it. If there is not, consider starting one. The AMSSM has a guide here.
Picking Fellowships to Apply to.
There is no “best fellowship”, although there may be some fellowships that are a better match for certain individuals based on the program and the applicant. There’s a lot to consider when picking a fellowship. You want the program to have the “right feel” for you. The following are some general suggestions when considering which programs to apply to.
Do you or your residency have a relationship with the program? Some programs prefer to recruit outside residents rather than “inbreeding” . Other programs often rank residents from their program highly because they know them better, thus increasing your odds of matching. The better a program knows you, often the better your chances of matching to that program.
What region of the country do you want to be in? Some folks are flexible, willing to move across the country for the right program. Others will only apply regionally due to other constraints such as family, significant other or desired practice location after fellowship. This is very individualized. Keep in mind limiting yourself geographically can hinder the number of interviews you receive.
How much team coverage is there? Some applicants may want to cover teams as an attending while others may want to be more clinic based. You should consider how much coverage of teams your program has to offer because this can vary widely from program to program.
What are your future career goals? Do you want to work at a D1 University? Do you want a clinic based practice? Do you want to return to your hometown and cover your high school team? This should be considered when picking programs.
Has the program ever matched someone from your specialty? For the most part, this applies to non-FM applicants, although there are some programs based out of Peds, EM and PMR. For non-FM applicants, it's important to know if your program has matched that specialty and what the plan is for continuity clinic if you were to match there.
Which sports are you interested in? Many schools are well known for their football and basketball programs. Others for track and field, gymnastics, baseball, etc. Some schools have NCAA soccer teams or hockey teams, others have club teams. Make sure the programs you are applying to cover the sports you are interested in.
Timeline for Residents
Join the AMSSM, ACSM, AOASM. You can also join an interest group in your primary specialty if they exist
Reach out to board certified sports medicine physicians in the community to inquire about opportunities (shadowing, coverage, research, etc)
Reach out to athletic trainers at local high schools as they can help you identify coverage and shadowing opportunities
Also look for opportunities for event coverage
Keep a log of all interesting cases in sports medicine that you come across in clinic
If your program does not have set sports medicine electives look to set one up with an attending or group outside your residency program for your second year. Ideally, this would be in a fellowship program but it’s understood that is not always possible.
Setup your elective(s) for spring of second year or early third year.
Attending AMSSM, ACSM, AOASM annual meetings
Identify attendings who can write you a letter of recommendation
Begin working on your CV, personal statement
Register in ERAS (June)
Submit ERAS application on time, apply to individual programs (July)
Summer and Fall elective rotations
Attend interviews (September - November)
Rank list due (December)
Prepare for fellowship (January - June)
Professional Societies (Become a Resident Member)
AMSSM Roadmap (2014): Good resource going over the application process and plan for years of residency
AMSSM Resident page: Great FAQ section and also link for AMSSM Resident Scholarship Application
ACSM Positions : Many common topics in sports medicine covered and are basis for some questions on the CAQ
ERAS FAQ section for fellowship: Good resource for the application process
PDF Version of ERAS Application: Layout of the application and find ways to build your CV/application as a resident
PDF/tips for PMR Residents: Specifically for PMR Applicants to fellowship
2018 Match Statistics
The 2018 match statistics are available and can be reviewed here. A total of 188 programs participated in the match, 181 filled. Of the 292 available positions, 283 (96.9%) positions were filled. 283 out of 374 applicants successfully matched (75.7%).
Specialty Specific Advice
Of the 188 programs that participated in the 2018 match, there are 140 family medicine based sports medicine fellowships. Nearly all programs accept family medicine applicants.
This is the most traditional route taken and many programs will ask if train at a dual-accredited program. The continuity clinics vary during fellowship and most will have in student health services or an outpatient clinic. You are required to do one half day per week, though some may have you practice a full day. Many program directors will ask if you want to continue practicing family medicine after your fellowship. You should also be aware some programs have specific spots for specialties besides family medicine.
Of the 188 programs that participated in the 2018 match, there are 8 emergency medicine based sports medicine fellowships. More than 100 programs currently accept emergency medicine trained applicants.
The emergency medicine residency association (EMRA) has published a thorough and exhaustive guide to applying to the primary care sports medicine fellowship. In an effort to not duplicate their efforts, we strongly recommend you review their material.
A few salient points borrowed from their guide:
Many emergency medicine-sports medicine trained physicians split their clinical time between the emergency department and sports medicine clinic.
When applying to programs, it is reasonable to ask if they have ever interviewed, offered a position to or matched an EM applicant
You are strongly encouraged to clarify how the program will structure your continuity clinic. This should be in an emergency department, but could potentially be elsewhere such as an urgent care.
There are currently no internal medicine based programs. More than 115 programs currently accept internal medicine trained applicants.
Of the 188 programs that participated in the 2018 match, there are 18 pediatrics based sports medicine fellowships. More than 100 programs currently accept pediatrics trained applicants.
There are currently no advertised programs based out of medicine and pediatrics combined residencies. More than 40 programs currently accept medicine-pediatrics trained applicants. It is worth noting that a lot of programs probably do not “advertise” that they accept medicine-pediatrics trained applicants but accept both internal medicine and pediatrics applicants. Thus, the true number is likely higher.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Of the 188 programs that participated in the 2018 match, there are 22 PM&R based sports medicine fellowships. Nearly 100 programs currently accept PM&R trained applicants.
In 2016, several PM&R PCSM faculty created a guideline for PM&R residents applying, which can be viewed here.