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How to Become a Sports Team Doctor

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Talk about job envy: what sporting fan doesn’t dream about earning a living working for their favorite team? Some staff jobs are seasonal. Others are administrative. But when it comes to upper echelon careers, a sports team doctor hangs with the sky box crowd. If you believe that no dream is too big, and if you don’t care whether you work for the Boston Celtics, Chicago Blackhawks or New York Yankees, there’s no reason to doubt your ability to reach your career goal.

Concentrate on your educational path. Finish your undergraduate degree. Major in science, physiology, biology or pre-med. Minor in physical education. Participate in team and individual sports so you understand the unique nature of sports physiology as it relates to the treatment of men and women suffering sports injuries and conditions.

Pass the Medical College Aptitude Test (MCAT). Hire a tutor, even if you’re skilled, so you get the highest possible grade on this required test. Apply to several medical schools, opting for the one with the best reputation. Complete classroom and laboratory requirements. Focus your elective studies on orthopedics, the study and treatment of joint, muscle and bone injuries and conditions, as these are the most commonly treated conditions at athletic venues.

Apply for a license to practice medicine. Locate a residency at any of the following institutions: a teaching hospital, clinic or sports medicine facility. Seek work with athletic teams, sporting organizations and sports-related institutions. Investigate internships that allow doctors-in-training to learn sports medicine on the job. Take an additional residency if you decide to focus on orthopedic surgery.

Use your medical school network, the Internet, medical search and placement firms to seek a job with a sports team. Market yourself professionally so you stand a better chance of landing a position: Compile a list of your credentials, experience and goals. Write a dynamic cover letter. Send this package to the HR department of colleges, as well as professional and minor league teams.

Take an alternative position with a sports team to get your foot in the door until a staff medical position opens. Assess the talents, education and skills you possess that qualify you to be, for example, a marketing director, sponsorship executive, business developer, community relations director or another high-profile job that puts you into direct contact with team movers and shakers.

Act as a consultant for sports teams in your area while maintaining your sports medicine practice if your schedule affords you the time. Make yourself available to teams when members of medical staffs take vacations to hone your diagnosis, treatment and injury management skills while positioning yourself for a future full-time job.

Stay abreast of sports medicine trends, keeping up with literature and advances in training, physiology, physical therapy, sports psychology and other conditions that dominate sports. Monitor sports physician's salary ranges while you wait to land that dream job so you’re as well versed on the going rate of payment as you are on treating athletes.


Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.