HBCU medical school students will join clinical rotations with NFL team medical staff this year
Students from four historically black college and university medical schools will be selected for clinical rotations with NFL team medical staff this year.
The joint program with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS) aims to diversify the pipeline in sports medicine, including at NFL clubs. It is open to medical students interested in sports medicine and/or primary care orthopedic surgery at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles; Howard University College of Medicine in Washington; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We always have students interested in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, and that’s an additional avenue,” said Dr. Digna Forbes, acting dean of Meharry’s medical school. “The more opportunities we have for these sub-specialties, the more it will increase the diversity in them. This is important.
“This is an opportunity to showcase our medical students; they’ve gone all over the place in these sub-specialties, but with the NFL being so prominent, and to diversify the [medical] positions in the NFL, it would be great if the doctors who care for them were also diverse. »
A study that examines the diversity of the medical student population shows that black medical students make up just 7.3% of the total in this country. This figure has increased by less than 1 percentage point over the past 40 years and is well below the 13.4% black population in the United States. The NFL has almost 70% black players.
A total of 16 students will participate in the inaugural program, two students each from eight of the participating NFL clubs: the Falcons, Bengals, Chargers, Rams, Giants, 49ers, Titans and Commanders.
In 2023, the program will expand to recruit students from other academic institutions and medical disciplines. They will be placed with the medical staff in more teams. The expansion next year will extend to disciplines beyond primary care sports medicine and orthopedic surgery.
This season, however, students will work directly with and under the supervision of orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians, and athletic trainers to gain basic medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine. They will learn return to play guidelines and on-field treatments for players. The possibility of being on the sidelines to observe during matches is envisaged.
“Overall, a day would consist of a mix of time with the athletic training staff, observation of treatment and assessments, and rehabilitation care,” said Dr. Allen Sills, chief medical officer of the NFL. “They would also spend time with the team doctors and learn how they diagnose and treat injury rehabilitation. Maybe they would attend surgery involving an athlete. And then they would attend a team practice .
“All of these elements allow them to appreciate what the whole athletic training staff does, how the medical team works together.”
Sills notes that diversity is a problem throughout the field of medicine. NFLPS President Timothy McAdams agrees.
“We have important work to do to ensure that NFLPS membership more closely reflects the player population we deal with every day,” said McAdams, who is also the San Francisco 49ers’ chief medical officer. “It starts here, expanding the pipeline and encouraging medical students from diverse backgrounds to consider the possibilities of a career in sports medicine.”