How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician

How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician: Career Path Guide

To become a sports medicine physician, you first need to determine if this career path is right for you. Ask yourself the following questions:


• Are you intrigued by the ways medicine can be used to treat athletes?

• Do you excel in science and enjoy learning?

• Do you have a passion for sport?

• Do you have a strong memory and a genuine interest in people’s health?

• Are you able to put an athlete’s health before the needs of his or her team?


If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then a career as a sports medicine physician may be well suited for you! Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a sports medicine physician. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Sports Medicine Physician in the U.S.

To become a sports medicine physician in the United States, you must begin by earning a baccalaureate degree, typically in pre-med program.


Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, you must complete a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. MD or DO degree programs generally involve four years of academic coursework in biology, biochemistry, anatomy, pathology, psychology, physiology, medical ethics and pharmacology.


In addition to classroom-based coursework, medical students must also complete a clinical residency, which gives students hands-on practice in a variety of clinical settings while under the supervision of doctors and healthcare professionals.


After earning a DO or MD degree, prospective sports medicine physicians must get a certification of added qualification (CAQ) in sports medicine. To prepare for this, doctors complete a two-year fellowship in sports medicine at a hospital, rehabilitation facility or university athletic department. 




Sports Medicine Physician Job Description

Sports medicine physicians are responsible for treating musculoskeletal injuries that occur as a result of participation in sports, such as knee and shoulder injuries, ankle sprains, head injuries, tendonitis and fractures.



Sports Medicine Physician Job Duties

• Help athletes maximize their performance levels

• Help athletes prevent injuries

• May treat chronic health conditions that can affect athletic performance

• May suggest diet plans and exercise programs

• Liaise with coaches, dieticians, physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches and other personnel

• Plan treatment and rehabilitation for their patients



Education Needed to Become a Sports Medicine Physician in Canada

To become a sports medicine physician in Canada, you must begin by earning a baccalaureate degree, typically in a field such as biology. 


Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree, you will need to complete three or four year Medical Doctor (MD) degree program at an accredited university.


Once you have earned your MD degree, you must complete post-graduate training in family medicine or another specialty such as family practice, paediatrics, emergency medicine or orthopaedics.


After you have obtained certification in a medical specialty you must complete a 1 to 2 year sport medicine fellowship in order to earn your CASM diploma (Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine).



Who Hires Sports Medicine Physicians?

Sports medicine physicians typically work in sports medicine clinics. They may also be employed or contracted by sports teams and organizations. They may also volunteer their services for amateur sports teams and organizations.


Sports medicine physicians may work either in solo practices, or multi-disciplinary team clinics with physiotherapists, athletic therapists, sports psychologists, kinesiologists and other professionals.





Characteristics of Successful Sports Medicine Physicians

It is very beneficial to have the following personality traits in order to become successful as a sports medicine physician, and not just one who is mediocre:


• Strong intellect, necessary to successfully complete the rigorous requirements of medical school and continued lifelong learning

• Keen interest in sports

• Confidence; a sports medicine physician’s confidence can instill confidence in their patients

• Physical, intellectual and emotional stamina needed to work long hours

• Emotional strength and maturity

• Able to work effectively with other healthcare practitioners, such as physical therapists

• Enjoy finding solutions to problems

• Empathy for a patient’s physical pain

• Caring, compassionate and kind

• Able to communicate in clear and plain language to the athletes they treat



Sports Medicine Physician Salary

The salary level of Sports Medicine Physicians can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as their level of experience, their level of education, the organization they work for, whether or not they work within a private or public healthcare system, their area of specialty and many others.


Sports Medicine Physician Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the General Practitioners and Family Physicians occupational group earned an average wage of $84.67 per hour.


Sports Medicine Physician Canada: According to Service Canada, workers in the General Practitioners and Family Physicians occupational group earn an average annual salary of $139,681 per year.


Sports Medicine Physician United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries of workers in the Physicians and Surgeons occupational group are among the highest amounts of all occupations; the median salary of doctors who practice primary care is $202,392.



Careers Similar to Sports Medicine Physician

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Sports Medicine Physician, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Exercise Physiologist


Osteopathic Physician




References: How to Become a Sports Medicine Physician

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Sports Medicine Physician in Canada as well as in the United States.


Occupations in Alberta:Specialist Physician.” (March 24, 2015). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Healthcare:Physicians and Surgeons.” (September 10, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Articles:Career Paths in Sports Medicine.” (n.d.). Sports Med BC website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Sports Medicine Physician

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Sports Medicine Physician can be found on the following pages:


Biology Scholarships

Exercise Science Scholarships

Kinesiology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Sports Medicine Physician: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a sports medicine physician. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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