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To spur diversity in sports medicine, NFL teams will host med students from HBCUs

070622_Higher Ed_Football on field_Dave Adamson Unsplash
Dave Adamson
A new NFL program hopes to diversify the pipeline of Black doctors who are interested in careers in sports medicine.

The National Football League is launching a program to invite medical students from historically Black colleges and universities to work with NFL teams’ medical staffs this season. The goal is to help diversify the pipeline of Black doctors who are interested in careers in sports medicine.

As part of their coursework, third- and fourth-year medical students do one-month clinical rotations focused on different specialties, often within the teaching hospitals affiliated with each medical school. The NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative will allow students interested in sports medicine to do a rotation at an NFL club, working alongside physicians caring for professional athletes.

“What we're really looking to do is to have the students understand all of the elements to go into the care of the NFL athlete, and also connect with mentors and advisors who they can stay in touch with as their careers develop,” said Dr. Allen Sills, a neurosurgeon and the NFL’s chief medical officer.

The program will accept 16 medical students interested in either primary care sports medicine or orthopedic surgery from four HBCUs: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College.

Students will be placed with one of eight participating NFL clubs: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders.

Participants will learn how to provide care to players "both in practice situations, game day situations, in the training room, possibly in physicians’ offices, and even in surgery as well,” Sills said. “So it's a comprehensive overview of the sports medicine team of a professional team.”