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A future in Sports Medicine
By Jennifer Bailey
Are you passionate about sports? Are you interested in a health-related career that allows you to work with athletes? If you answered yes, then this might be the career field for you!
One thing you will want to do early on in your decision-making process is decide what you want to do with a degree in sports medicine specifically, as this will affect the type of degree program you will go into. Career options include being a trainer for a college or professional sports team, a personal trainer, a research scientist who specializes in sports medicine, a sports nutritionist or a sports physical therapist. Each one requires a different sports medicine degree or focus.
Overall, sports medicine focuses on helping people improve their athletic performance, recover from injury and prevent future injuries. This is a fast-growing healthcare field, because health workers who specialize in sports medicine help all kinds of people, not just athletes. Sports medicine is closely related to kinesiology, which is human kinetics, as well as exercise physiology. In this field, you'll use scientific and medical knowledge to help others by identifying, assisting, rehabilitating and preventing injuries.
The career path you take will depend on your interests, both short and long term. Many careers in this field require advanced degrees, and certification can improve your chances of landing a great job. So, you will also need to determine which level of sports-medicine degree you want to obtain for your chosen career: associates, bachelor's, master's or doctorate. For example, it is likely that there are bachelor sports medicine programs in your area, but sports medicine programs offering doctoral degrees are less common and you may need to relocate for school. If your end goal is to become a personal trainer, an associate degree is sufficient, though it's not usually necessary. If you want to become an athletic trainer, a bachelor's degree will suffice. However, those who want to be sports nutritionists may need to earn a graduate degree, depending on state requirements.
You may consider volunteering with the medical personnel who assist your school’s sports teams. You can observe the work they do and learn more about what a career in sports medicine entails and see if this would be a good fit for you.
You'll find all sports medicine degree programs are a combination of fitness and anatomical science. These programs prepare you for careers in athletic training, teaching, massage therapy and medicine. You'll receive extensive hands-on experience through a mixture of lab assignments and field practice. The courses you will take will depend upon the level of degree you're pursuing.
As athletes at the professional, college, and high school level continue to push their bodies to perform better, faster, and stronger and, as the popularity of personal trainers and nutritionists increase, there will be a lot of opportunities for employment in this healthcare field.
As mentioned, a bachelor's degree gives you the foundation for your career in sports medicine or to pursue further educational goals. Some of the classes you can expect to take include biology, human anatomy, human physiology, nutrition, exercise physiology and neuroscience.