The NFL, NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) are committed to increasing diversity in sports medicine and have launched a new program to encourage medical students from diverse backgrounds to consider sports medicine careers.
The program will provide medical students at the four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) medical schools with the opportunity to complete a clinical rotation with NFL club medical staff. During their rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of sports medicine patients in NFL club settings. Students will work directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians and athletic trainers to gain basic medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine.
Additionally, students will become familiar with return-to-play guidelines and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players. Students may also have the opportunity to attend home games and be present on the sideline for observation. By the end of the rotation, students will understand the basic elements of all facets of care provided to NFL players from an orthopedic, primary care sports medicine and athletic training perspective.
More information on the program can be found here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are the NFL, NFLPS and PFATS launching this initiative?
A: We know that diversity makes us stronger. It is well-established in scientific and medical literature that diverse medical staff lead to improved patient outcomes, and our organizations are committed to providing world-class care for our players. This initiative part of a long-term effort to help broaden the pipeline of diverse medical professionals entering the field of sports medicine.
A study that examines diversity of the medical student population, shows Black medical students comprise only 7.3 percent of the total medical school population in the U.S. – a figure that has risen less than 1 percent over the last 40 years and is far lower than the 13.4 percent Black population in the United States.
According to the NFLPS, 86 percent of their membership identify as white, 8 percent identify as Asian, 5 percent identify as Black and 1 percent identify as Hispanic. According to PFATS, 65 percent of their membership identify as white, 23 percent identify as Black, 8 percent identify as Hispanic and 4 percent identify as Asian.
Q: Which medical schools are involved?
A: This project entails working with the four HBCU medical schools: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Meharry Medical College.
Q: Which NFL clubs are involved?
A: Eight NFL clubs are participating in the inaugural year of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative in 2022: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, LA Chargers, LA Rams, NY Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Commanders. We expect to expand the number of clubs hosting students during the 2023 season and beyond.
More frequently asked questions and answers can be found here.
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