How to Become Sports Medicine Physician | 10 Steps

How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician in 10 Steps

If you are equally interested in sports and medicine, then a career as a sports medicine physician is ideal for you.

It offers you the opportunity to mix the two in a way that is extremely helpful to others to lead an active, healthy life.

However, before you make this decision, there are several things you need to know. This article lists the major aspects and important facts about becoming a sports medicine physician.

What Does a Sports Medicine Physician Do

Sports medicine physicians can work for college sports teams or professional athletic teams. Most sports medicine doctors get to enjoy the game from the sidelines and even travel to different venues with the team.

There aren’t many careers that can boast of such varied perks. This is one of the most appealing parts for aspiring sports medicine physicians today.

What does a Sports Medicine Physician do

How to Become Sports Medicine Physician

Sports medicine physicians are medically trained professionals who work to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries occurring from sports activities.

Sports medicine doctors need to study the musculoskeletal system of the body, which includes the bones, muscles and joints. In addition, they are also trained to work in conventional hospital settings.

A career as a sports medicine physician tends to be deeply gratifying as it involves helping others remain active and healthy.

Where can a Sports Medicine Physician work

Sports are considerably newer, and the sports industry is constantly evolving. As with other forms of physician professions, sports medicine physicians can work in different types of healthcare settings.

They can work in hospitals or can find employment at outpatient clinics. Apart from this, sports medicine doctors can also work with athletic teams at fitness centers, big-sized gyms, and popular athletic events, such as marathons.

How much is the average salary of a Sports Medicine Physician

According to reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for sports medicine physicians is around US$ 197,700.

In addition, the top ten percent of sports medicine physicians earn over US$ 329,300 per year.

What is the career outlook for Sports Medicine Physicians

According to statistics from BLS, physicians in sports medicine can expect a 14% growth in vacancies by 2024. This is a faster-than-average growth and offers a motivating outlook for aspiring sports medicine physicians.

As the sports industry grows by billions of dollars every year, the demand for certified and experienced sports medicine physicians is going to increase significantly.

How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician?

Here are the simple steps to become a sports medicine physician in the US:

1 – Earn a bachelor’s degree

The first step to becoming a sports medicine physician is to acquire a bachelor’s degree with pre-med requisites. This should help you build a strong foundation regarding general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics.

Admissions into medical schools are competitive. Hence, you must complete the above-mentioned course and get excellent grades to be eligible for admission into a medical school.

2 – Pass MCAT in junior year

After acquiring the bachelor’s degree, you will need to score excellent on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

This is the best way to secure a seat at a reputed medical school. If you are a passionate athlete or sportsperson, then this works to your advantage in later years.

3 – Admission into medical school and earning a doctorate

Most students apply to medical schools right after their senior year as undergraduates. However, you can also choose to take a year or two off between college and medical school.

Aspiring sports medicine physicians need to complete either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree.

Both these programs include four years of studying biochemistry, biology, pathology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, pharmacology and medical ethics.

4 – Prepare for the first two parts of USMLE

While in medical school, you can choose to take part one and two of the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

Part one of the USMLE is administered before your third year of medical school. Part two of USMLE usually takes place in the last two years of medical school.

5 – Apply for residency

Once you have completed the fourth (final) year of medical school, you can apply for residency in sports medicine at a hospital or clinic.

6 – Complete clinical residency

Once you acquire your medical degree (MD or DO),, you must complete the residency program.

This is a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience in various medical settings and under the supervision of expert, certified sports medicine physicians.

You can choose either a 3-year residency in emergency medicine, family medicine, or internal medicine. Or, you can choose to attend the 4-year residencies in rehabilitation and physical medicine.

Both types of residencies provide suitable training to aspiring sports medicine physicians.

If you are surgically inclined, then you may need to complete a 5-year residency in orthopedic surgery.

During the residency period, you can even secure a clinical rotation in sports medicine to gain relevant experience in the field.

7 – Pass the final part of USMLE

The third and final part of the USMLE is held at the end of the residency period. You will need to pass this exam to practice sports medicine in the US.

8 – Complete fellowship to get certified

Next, you will need to get a certification of added qualification (CAQ) in sports medicine. You can prepare for this by completing a 2-year fellowship in sports medicine.

You can choose to pursue the fellowship program at a rehabilitation facility, hospital or a university-based athletic department.

9 – Get a state license

Every state in the US requires medical doctors to get licenses. Hence, sports medicine physicians must consult with their state’s licensing board to know the specific criteria and requirements.

10 – Pursue advanced career opportunities

Once you have successfully acquired state licensure, you can choose to practice sports medicine by establishing your private practice. You can also choose to join groups to become a partner.

On the other hand, you can also apply for employment at large hospitals. This is an incredibly effective way to advance your career.


The global sports industry is enormous and constantly growing. With an ever-increasing passion for sports, there is a significant demand for certified and trained sports medicine physicians in the US and worldwide.

So, if you are passionate about sports and helping people lead healthy, active lives,, you can become a certified sports medicine physician.

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