So you are a medical student interested in sports medicine? Awesome. Hopefully we can help you begin the path to successfully achieving that goal.
First and foremost, It’s important to understand what sports medicine is. According to the AMSSM, sports medicine is the “approach to athletes, exercising individuals, and teams comprehensively with consultative and continuous care of their orthopedic, medical, nutritional, and psychosocial issues”. In more practical terms, that can mean that you are a team physician, a non-operative orthopedist, or even a non-operative orthopedic interventionist if your practice primarily consists of procedures. Since approximately 90% of sports-related injuries are nonsurgical, sports medicine physicians are well positioned to manage most athletic injuries and often have a close, collegial relationship with their surgical peers.
Choosing a residency program
Traditionally, sports medicine physicians have done their primary training in family medicine. Most fellowship programs are based out of family medicine residencies or run by family medicine trained faculty. That paradigm is shifting and there are now programs run by pediatrics, emergency medicine, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. Many programs also accept internal medicine and medicine-pediatrics residents.
Choosing a residency program that either directly contains or has a formal relationship with a sports medicine fellowship or sports organizations can be helpful. However, it is not necessary and should not deter you from pursuing sports medicine. The advantage of a residency program associated with a fellowship is you will likely have more opportunity for networking, research and coverage. It will likely be easier to do rotations during residency in sports medicine (you can view the fellowships tab on our website to get links to websites for fellowships (https://www.sportsmedreview.com/fellowships-all/)). If you choose a residency program that does not have a fellowship, you should strongly consider completing an away rotation at programs you are interested in. The amount of time for elective rotations from residency programs varies, but generally ranges from 2 weeks to 2 months. Most residents do away rotations for 2 weeks - 4 weeks and it is important to ask residency programs about their away rotation policy. Note that away rotations can be challenging due to credentialing and malpractice coverage.
Getting exposure and building your application as a student
You can start building your application and have the opportunity to become members of the sports organizations. It is helpful to attend American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) annual conference and attend the fellowship fair. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also provides opportunities for students. It is helpful to see what programs have to offer, meet their faculty and even present a poster. Medical students can become an officer for AMSSM or become an officer at a sports medicine interest group for their medical school. Other ways to build your application include covering or volunteering at sports events (games, race events, clinics) with residents, fellows or attendings. Some may have the opportunity to participate in research and it is important to be honest about the research you participate in when applying. There is a section in the application for peer reviewed journals, peer reviewed book chapters, poster presentations and online publications (see PDF version linked on this page). Near the end there is also a section for interests, medical school awards and other awards. Many fellowship directors are interested in your hobbies and it is important to stay well-rounded.
Professional Societies (Become a Student Member)
Student Membership 30$
Student Membership 10$
Student Membership Varies
General Online Resources
- AMSSM Student Section (very good resource for students and has a great FAQ portion.)
- ACSM position stands (these positions form basis for some board exam questions)
- ERAS FAQ section for fellowship
- ERAS FAQ section for residency
- PDF version of ERAS Fellowship Application (get an idea of how to start building your CV/application)
- 2018 Sports Medicine Fellowship Match Statistics