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Sports Medicine Physician Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: February 1, 2023

A Sports Medicine Physician, or Sports Medicine Doctor, is responsible for helping athletes prevent and heal from injuries alongside their athletic training. Their duties include diagnosing musculoskeletal conditions, developing physical therapy plans and giving nutritional advice that suits a highly active lifestyle.

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Sports Medicine Physician Duties and Responsibilities

In the course of their work day, a Sports Medicine Physician is required to carry out a variety of duties and responsibilities. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Diagnosing physical injuries in athletes including partial or total fractures, sprains and concussions
  • Ordering laboratory tests to aid in accurate diagnosis
  • Formulating treatment plans in Athletes based on diagnoses
  • Working with a Physical Therapist to create rehabilitation plans for recovering Athletes
  • Providing medication to Athletes in their care
  • Making return-to-play decisions for Athletes injured on the field
  • Working along with a Fitness Instructor to create exercise regimens for Athletes
  • Drawing up nutritional plans in collaboration with a Nutritionist or Dietitian
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What Does a Sports Medicine Physician Do?

Sports Medicine Physicians can work for sports teams, athletic departments or private clinics to give specialized medical care to people who play a sport or want to increase their exercise regimen. They are experts in sports-related injuries, orthopedic care and holistic health for athletes. Their primary role is to educate patients about how to strengthen their musculoskeletal systems and treat both chronic and acute injuries that could impact their ability to stay active. Sports Medicine Physicians consult with athletes on methods they can use to improve their performance alongside their health.

Sports Medicine Physician Skills and Qualifications

To be considered suitable for the role, a Sports Medicine Physician should have the following prerequisite skills and qualifications:

  • Superior knowledge of physical medicine and medical biology
  • Thorough knowledge of disease and injury diagnostics
  • In-depth understanding of sports culture and practices
  • Ability to prescribe various medications, and carry out non-surgical treatment
  • Ability to give sound counsel
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

Sports Medicine Physician Salary Expectations

While the data is not available for a Sports Medicine Physician salary, the amount will often depend on factors such as geographical location, the type of Athletes the Physician cares for and the experience level of the applicant.

Sports Medicine Physician Education and Training Requirements

A Sports Medicine Physician is a Doctor. Therefore, they should have a bachelor’s degree in a pre-med course such as biology, nursing, biochemistry or a related field. A Sports Medicine Physician must have attended medical school and completed the required clinical rotations. In addition, a Sports Medicine Physician may specialize in orthopedic medicine, with a focus on primary physical care.

A one-year fellowship in sports medicine is a bonus. This may include research opportunities and instruction in internal medicine, pediatrics and surgical techniques. Sports Medicine Physicians must be board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics or family medicine. In addition, the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine is not compulsory, but recommended.

Sports Medicine Physician Experience Requirements

An experienced Sports Medicine Physician should have a minimum of two years of experience in the role. They should be familiar with working on active Athletes either at the youth or senior level. A Sports Medicine Physician should be knowledgeable about sports injuries, with adequate experience identifying, diagnosing and successfully treating them. They must also have experience creating strategies which help athletes improve their performance on the field and prevent serious injury.

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Frequently asked questions about Sports Medicine Physicians

What are the traits of a good Sports Medicine Physician?

Good Sports Medicine Physicians are knowledgeable about different sports and the common health risks associated with participating in sports and training in that area. They are good leaders who can inspire and motivate others while still providing realistic advice about their health, wellbeing and physical limitations. They are able to bond with their patients through a shared passion for athletics, sports and wellness. To be good at their jobs, Sports Medicine Physicians should be strategic with a skill for long-term planning to help their patients recover or to assist patients in practicing sustainable lifestyle habits.

What is the difference between a Sports Medicine Physician and an Athletic Trainer?

Athletic Trainers and Sports Medicine Physicians are both healthcare professionals who play an instrumental role in an athlete’s ability to compete while staying healthy and safe. Athletic Trainers focus more on the day-to-day activities of Athletes, attending games and trainings where they provide onsite care, tape injuries and apply braces. Although they are healthcare providers, Athletic Trainers are not Doctors. Sports Medicine Physicians have medical degrees and address advanced issues outside of practice. They do not interact as closely with athletes as Athletic Trainers on a daily basis but still check in with them regularly to assess their progress during treatment.

What are the daily duties of a Sports Medicine Physician?

Sports Medicine Physicians operate out of a hospital or clinic but may occasionally travel with a sports team to provide on-site evaluations and care. They collaborate with administrative roles to schedule appointments for patients and collect their medical history. They meet with the patient and perform a visual exam, testing their mobility, pain levels and vital signs. Common conditions that Sports Medicine Physicians treat during appointments include concussions, fractures, tendonitis and torn ligaments. They plan physical therapy routines and teach their patients how to properly exercise an injured area to create more muscular support and encourage even healing.

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