Sports Doctor

Community and Health

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Helping or advisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Sports physicians provide medical attention to athletes, either offering medical treatment or counseling. They need a Doctor of Medicine degree and must pass all licensing and certification requirements for the area in which they want to work.  Future Growth Strong

Sports physicians can be either primary care doctors or orthopedic surgeons. Their patients are predominantly athletes, and their focus is on promoting fitness and wellness. Completion of a medical degree and residency program are required to work in the field.

Sports physicians treat musculoskeletal injuries that occur as a result of participation in sports, such as knee and shoulder injuries, ankle sprains, head injuries, tendonitis and fractures. Additionally, primary care sports physicians may treat chronic health conditions that can affect athletic performance, such as asthma and diabetes.

Sports physicians counsel athletes, helping them maximize performance, prevent injuries and lead a healthy lifestyle. They may suggest supplements, diet plans or exercise regimens to address performance issues. They may also help athletes with psychological or substance abuse issues related to sports. Sports physicians collaborate with physical therapists, athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals to plan courses of treatment and rehabilitation for their patients

Alternative names:
Sports Physician; Sports Medicine Physician


Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • an interest in the well-being of others

  • good communication and people skills

  • compassionate towards others

  • self-confidence

  • to work well under pressure, and in emergency situations

  • to be reliable and responsible

  • stamina to work long hours

  • a high degree of motivation and self-discipline

Injuries in sport
(Source: Sports Medicine Brisbane)

Duties and Tasks

  • Diagnose or treat disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Diagnose medical conditions.
    Treat chronic diseases or disorders.
  • Order and interpret the results of laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging procedures. Analyze test data or images to inform diagnosis or treatment. Order medical diagnostic or clinical tests.
  • Advise against injured athletes returning to games or competition if resuming activity could lead to further injury.
  • Record athletes' medical care information and maintain medical records. Record patient medical histories.
  • Record athletes' medical histories and perform physical examinations. Examine patients to assess general physical condition. Record patient medical histories.
  • Examine and evaluate athletes prior to participation in sports activities to determine level of physical fitness or predisposition to injuries. Examine patients to assess general physical condition. Evaluate patient functioning, capabilities, or health.
  • Coordinate sports care activities with other experts including specialty physicians and surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, or coaches. Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
  • Provide education and counseling on illness and injury prevention. Provide health and wellness advice to patients, program participants, or caregivers.
  • Participate in continuing education activities to improve and maintain knowledge and skills.
    Maintain medical or professional knowledge.
  • Advise athletes, trainers, or coaches to alter or cease sports practices that are potentially harmful. Advise athletes, coaches, or trainers on exercise regimens, nutrition, or equipment use.
  • Inform coaches, trainers, or other interested parties regarding the medical conditions of athletes.
    Explain medical procedures or test results to patients or family members.
  • Examine, evaluate and treat athletes who have been injured or who have medical problems such as exercise-induced asthma. Examine patients to assess general physical condition. Treat acute illnesses, infections, or injuries. Treat chronic diseases or disorders.
  • Supervise the rehabilitation of injured athletes.
  • Refer athletes for specialized consultation, physical therapy, or diagnostic testing. Refer patients to other healthcare practitioners or health resources.
  • Prescribe medications for the treatment of athletic-related injuries. Prescribe medications.
  • Inform athletes about nutrition, hydration, dietary supplements, or uses and possible consequences of medication. Advise athletes, coaches, or trainers on exercise regimens, nutrition, or equipment use.
  • Attend games and competitions to provide evaluation and treatment of activity-related injuries or medical conditions.
  • Develop and test procedures for dealing with emergencies during practices or competitions.
    Develop emergency procedures.
  • Advise coaches, trainers, or physical therapists on the proper use of exercises and other therapeutic techniques and alert them to potentially dangerous practices. Advise athletes, coaches, or trainers on exercise regimens, nutrition, or equipment use.
  • Observe and evaluate athletes' mental well-being. Evaluate patient functioning, capabilities, or health.
  • Select and prepare medical equipment or medications to be taken to athletic competition sites.
    Select medical equipment for addressing patient needs. Prepare medications or medical solutions. Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
  • Conduct research in the prevention or treatment of injuries or medical conditions related to sports and exercise. Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
  • Prescribe orthotics, prosthetics, and adaptive equipment. Prescribe assistive medical devices or related treatments.
  • Evaluate and manage chronic pain conditions. Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals. Treat chronic diseases or disorders.
  • Develop and prescribe exercise programs such as off-season conditioning regimens. Develop exercise or conditioning programs. Prescribe treatments or therapies.
  • Provide coaches and therapists with assistance in selecting and fitting protective equipment.
    Advise athletes, coaches, or trainers on exercise regimens, nutrition, or equipment use.
  • Advise athletes on how substances, such as herbal remedies, could affect drug testing results.
    Advise patients on effects of health conditions or treatments.

Hamstring injury in cricket
(Source: Sports Medicine Doctor)

Working conditions

Sports Medicine Physicians are expected to be at training sessions and at the game.


Tools and technologies

Sports Medicine Physicians use instruments such as stethoscopes, thermometers, sphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitors) and reflex hammer. They also administer medicines, such as vaccinations. They regularly use computers to maintain client records and consult pharmaceutical manuals.



Education and training/entrance requirements

You must earn an undergraduate degree and complete medical school to become a doctor. After medical school, new physicians have to undertake a three to five year clinical residency program working closely with experienced colleagues in their specialty area.

You must apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians if you want to earn a fellowship in sports medicine.‚Äč An RACP fellowship in sports medicine requires completing a typically four-year general practice or orthopaedics residency, followed by at least two years of additional training in sports medicine.



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Material sourced from
Health Care Link [Sports Medicine Jobs]
My Plan [Sports Medicine Physicians]
Study [Sports Physician]


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