Sports Medicine Given New Prescription: Team Work
Greenlee, Craig T., Black Issues in Higher Education
Sports medicine used to be the sole responsibility
of athletic trainers and team doctors, whose only
emphasis was treating injured athletes. While
treating injuries is still a major focus, the field of
sports medicine has grown to include a host of
medical specialists who work collectively to
provide total care for the athlete.
In addition to the physicians and trainers,
nutritionists, physiologists, physical therapists
and psychologists are now an integral part of the
team approach in sports medicine. And all careers
in sports medicine require a college or
post-graduate degree of some kind.
Degrees in sports medicine are not as hard to
come by as they were ten to fifteen years ago.
There are at least 130 colleges in the United States
and Canada that offer four-year degrees in sports
medicine. With so many options available, choosing
a career path in sports medicine may not be so clear
"You have to remember that there are a lot of
levels of participation," says Dr. Letha Y. "Etty"
Griffin, an Atlanta orthopaedic surgeon. "A lot
depends on what aspect of sports medicine you
want to get involved in. And you have to ask
yourself how much time and how much money
you want to spend getting the education you
need for what you want to do."
Career opportunities for women and
minorities are numerous, says Dr. Griffin, who
also serves as team physician for Georgia State
University and Agnes Scott College.
"There are more women and minority trainers
and physicians than five years ago," she
explains. "And now that more people are
getting into fitness and recreational sports, the
demand for trainers and physiologists has
The boom in recreational sports and physical
fitness has broadened the horizon of sports
medicine beyond high school, college and
professional athletics. Sports-medicine clinics,
fitness centers and health clubs have helped
increase the demand for physicians, trainers,
physiologists and other specialists.
Doctors are aware of the demand. Currently,
there are approximately 3,800 physicians who
belong to the American College of Sports
Medicine -- a 50 percent increase over the last
decade. Approximately 1,100 of the top
orthopaedic surgeons in the country are certified
by the American Board of Orthopaedic
Surgery -- and most of those belong to the American
Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
With all the requirements for specialized
training in this field, coaches cannot be overlooked
as part of the sports medicine team. Many coaches
have advanced degrees and are knowledgeable
about first aid and injury prevention.
Lois Daigneault uses her background as a
sports medicine major to enhance her coaching
skills. Daigneault, who coached Canadian and
Macedonian swimmers at the 1996 Summer
Olympics in Atlanta, is excited about the results
she's seen in the swimmers she's trained.
During training sessions, Daigneault films
swimmers both above water and under water,
paying close attention to the biomechanics of
their swim strokes and helping them correct
She has also devised a weight training
program that strengthens swimmers and helps
keep them free of injury.
"It's like preventive maintenance," says
Daigneault. "The weight program really gets
the job done. Knock on wood, I haven't had
an athlete with an injury yet."
The overall outlook for career
opportunities in sports medicine continues to
be promising, says Dr. …