With exciting jobs including travel and up close and personal interaction with athletes, it’s no wonder why the field of sports medicine is a growing one. But with such a broad range of jobs, the excitement could lie in choosing an occupation. There is more to sports medicine than just athletic training and physical therapy. The careers in sports medicine vary as much as the fields of study.
Sports medicine represents many different areas of exercise and sports sciences that tie into physical performance and injury care.
One could specialize in athletic training, physical therapy, clinical medicine, orthopedic, exercise physiology, biomechanics, sports nutrition, sports psychology and the list goes on.
“Most students are majoring in health care science or physical therapy which will prepare them to go into a number of fields, but we are trying to get an athletic training program on campus for the students,” said Akima Dina, head athletic trainer.
FAMU offers a variety of classes that prepare students for jobs in sports medicine. As with any field, the best preparation in hands-on. In sports medicine the main focus generally lies in experience.
“Classes generally prepare us to be knowledgeable of different injuries and how to heal them and what to do when they happen,” said Diakima Thomas, a freshman pre-physical therapy student and athletic trainer.
Emmanuel Decius, a sophomore physical education student is also an athletic trainer.
“My classes help me understand different injuries and how to care for them, but actually being a trainer helps my to apply that knowledge hands on,” Decius said.
Athletic trainers play an important roll on the team. They take care of the athletes through treatments before and after practices and assist them when they get hurt, which happens frequently in sports.
“Everyday there’s some new and different injury,” Decius said of working with the athletes. “In track I’ll get more hamstring pulls and shin splints, but in football there might be more sprained ankles, dislocated shoulders and torn ligaments.”
In all of the different branches of sports medicine, the areas of opportunity vary greatly in training, time commitment, financial considerations and lifestyle, but nearly all professions require a certification. Requiring a certification protects the profession and guarantees qualification in a field of practice.
“My goal is to be an athletic trainer for the Dallas Cowboys, but before I can get there I must become certified,” said Tomeika Woolem, a junior health science student from Dallas. “Without a certification you can’t really get a job, be it for a high school team or the pros.”
Working for a professional team is a common goal among trainers, but according to Dr. Stewart Zeman, who has been a physician for the NFL, United States Football League and World League of American Football, making that dream a reality often has little to do with skills or training but rather contacts and politics.
He explains that contacts and politics are important in this society, so it is important to make contacts.
Sports medicine still remains a highly sought after field and students seem to really enjoy the thrill of working with the athletes.
“Sports medicine is a pretty exciting field and hopefully we can get that athletic training program on campus because I think the students could really benefit from it,” Decius said.