How to Become Sport Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon in 2022

Sport Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon: Are you wondering what the requirements are to join the team of doctors and physicians who specializes in sports surgery? 

Do you seek information on where sports medicine physicians or doctors work and what they do? 

Are you a little bit skeptical as to know if a career as a sports medicine orthopedic doctor is a good choice?


In a world where there seems to be a special specialty in every profession, it’s pertinent to know that all doctors specialize in fields.

And one of such fields is that of an orthopedic sport medicine doctor.

Sports medicine has gained traction over the years due to the increasing need for athletes to have special care routines.

The area of sports medicine requires special and extensive training for surgeons to develop skills that will help athletes stay healthy and fit.

With the recent development in the area of Biomedical Engineering, they are able to relate with scientific breakthroughs or technological innovations that will help athletes stay on course and deliver express results in the sports career.

Due to how pertinent this profession is, more and more people are moving into orthopedic sports medicine.

Here in this guide we bring you details on the vital information you need to know about becoming an orthopedic surgeon.


Also, we have also explained what sports medicine doctors do, where they work as physicians and best orthopedic sports medicine near you.

You will also be able to Follow our step by step guide to become one of these specialized surgeons in your region.

Welcome Aboard!!!

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What is Orthopedic Sports Medicine?

Orthopedic sports medicine refers to sports and exercise medicine.

In other words, it is a branch of medicine that focuses on physical fitness, treatment and prevention of injuries sustained as a result of sports and exercise.

In orthopedic sports medicine, the focus is on  sports-related injuries or the treatment of injuries resulting from athletic activities. 

Little wonder many often refer to sports medicine as the bridge between medicine and physical education.

With sports medicine, doctors promote the knowledge for the need of exercise on health.

Who is An Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctor?

Like the name suggests, an orthopedic sports medicine doctor is the physician who has specialized in both the treatment and prevention of sports related illness and injury.

Orthopedic sports medicine doctors are also referred to as orthopedic surgeons or physicians.

These medical specialists focus on understanding the structural and musculoskeletal systems of the human body such as 

  • Bones.
  • Muscles.
  • Tendons.
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves.

By virtue of their training, an orthopedic doctor in sports medicine knows how these can help someone keep healthy.

What Do Sport Medicine Doctors Do?

Sports medicine physicians have a variety of work focus.

Their role in a clinical setting goes beyond understanding how the bones and nerves work. 

Here’s are some job description of an orthopedic doctor in sports medicine;

#1. Orthopedic Surgeons Perform Orthopaedic Surgery in Sports Medicine.

One of the duties of doctors who specialize in sports medicine is to perform Orthopedic surgery.

Just like any other medical surgery, the Orthopedic Sports Medicine surgeon carries this out to improve the condition of their patient, relieve ongoing pain or suppress degeneration

A vivid example of an orthopedic surgery is hip replacement to alleviate arthritis pain, restore mobility and arrest bone loss.

Also, Orthopedic surgeons may also correct bone deformities through surgery,

#2. They Consult With Patients

Patients in need of physical fitness may not understand how to go about it.

But with a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon,he or she addresses how the patient should go about it and which exercise is fit for the appearance or fitness the patient needs.

#3. Orthopedic Surgeons Educate Patients On Their Condition

A patient with a degenerative disease may not fully grasp what exactly is wrong with him or her.

Therefore, one of the things a sports medicine doctor does is to educate their patient on what their  condition is and the best way to have them treated or prevented.

#4. They Order And Interpret Diagnostic Tests 

When a patient undergoes an MRI or X-ray test on the structural or musculoskeletal system, chances are that they may see it as a beautiful picture of their internal organs.

But with the orthopedic sports medicine doctor in the picture, they carefully explain what the x-ray results are saying and the next line of action.

#5. Orthopaedic Physicians Address Genetic and Congenital Conditions.

Some musculoskeletal disorders are genetic.

Orthopedic surgeons are able to address or treat congenital concerns like scoliosis, injuries such as broken hips, or degenerative diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis.

For instance you see a child who is unable to walk at the age of two.

One of the things a sports medicine doctor will do is help diagnose or identify the root cause of the lack of mobility and how to help the child walk again if the situation can be treated.

But if not, the orthopedic surgeon offers alternatives and plans to help the child live a better life.

#6. Orthopedic surgeons Work With New Medical Technological Advancements

Robotics in medicine is an evolving and trending part of the orthopedic profession. 

Orthopedic doctors in sports medicine get to work with advanced medical technologies such as robotics or implants to improve the life of their patients.

For instance, giving amputees a robotic arm or foot.

#7. Orthopedic Surgeons Treat Athletes

Because sports medicine is intertwined with physical education, some orthopedic doctors specialize in  treating sports injuries and working with professional sports teams. 

#8. Orthopedic Surgeons May Specialize in Oncology.


Yes, one of the things sports medicine doctors do is go practice orthopedic oncology.

This invokes the removal of tumors from the musculoskeletal system, potentially saving lives.

Other things sport medicine doctors do include;

  • Account for bacterial or viral infections.
  • Complete accurate charting for patient records
  • Prescribe medication or post-surgery rehabilitation.
  • Perform surgical techniques such as arthroscopy to diagnose joint issues or set broken bones
  • Be on call to respond to emergencies like car accidents or trauma
  • Improve patient life through therapies and treatments. 

ALSO READ: 21+ Medical Majors in College | Undergraduate Majors To Prepare For Medical School.

Why Should I Become An Orthopedic Surgeon?

Asides the fact that you will be saving lives, sports medicine is one of the most rewarding professions in the world today.

In sports medicine, you see the result of your input and you can track your work goals easily. 

As one of the most fulfilling professions, orthopedic surgeons help their patients have a quality life by dismissing pain through surgery or therapy. 

Practicing sports medicine as an orthopedic doctor is fulfilling in two ways: job satisfaction and fulfillment. 

They professionally help their patients return to health and contribute to positive improvements in people’s lives.

What is the Job Outlook For Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctors?

Orthopedic surgery and sports medicine is gaining traction in all the countries of the world.

In this dispensation, the need to keep fit by all means have increased in high percentages leading to many persons athletic or not seeking information on the best orthopedic sports medicine offices near them. 

This increasing need for a professional doctor’s advice in sports medicine has increased the need for more sports medicine doctors.

Doctors,. physicians and surgeons l in sports medicine are set to experience a job growth of 4%  between 2019 and 2029.

This invariably means that the prospect is actually not high.

So this is the best time to become too into sports medicine.

Where Do Sports Medicine Physicians Work?

Because the profession: sports medicine is vast, there is no need for sports medicine physicians to work in a particular facility.

Sports medicine physicians can work in different capacities.

Here are a list of job options for sports medicine physicians;

  • Military facilities.
  • Government agencies
  • Private practice group.
  • Hospitals as surgeons.
  • Sports Arenas as fitness coach.
  • In academia (teaching hospitals)
  • Independent or personal practice

What Are The Requirements To Become A Sports Medicine Orthopaedic  Doctor?

Going into the sports medicine profession is noble and rewarding but the requirements to become a doctor are demanding.

Orthopedic doctors invest a great amount of time and energy into education and training before practice.

To become a certified orthopedic doctor in sports medicine, it takes approximately 14 years to meet all the requirements.

I don’t mean to scare you, but that is what the demand says from schooling to certification.

Sports medicine is vast and the complex nature of the body’s framework takes a lot to be familiar with.

To become a sports medicine orthopedic doctor, here are the requirements you must meet;

  • High GPA
  • Excellent test scores
  • Recommendations from teachers or employers.

The above are the requirements to get you started on the journey to become a professional orthopedic surgeon.

But before you are allowed to practice, you must get certified.

What Programs Do Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeons Enroll For in School?

The degree that makes you an orthopedic surgeon is not your undergraduate degree.

After your undergraduate degree, you have to earn a medical degree to become a certified sports medicine doctor upon graduation.

Orthopedic surgeons earn their medical degree as either a 

  • Doctor of medicine (MD) 
  • Doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO). 

What Courses Are Offered in Orthopedic Sports Medicine Programs?

Students who enroll for an undergraduate program in sports medicine will undertake a variety of courses such as

  • English. 
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Mathematics 
  • Pre-med classes  
  • Orthopedic courses. 
  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry

When you enroll for medical school, you will learn courses such as;

  • Surgery
  • Genetics
  • Anatomy
  • Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Radiology
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Biochemistry
  • Obstetrics and gynecology

Also you’ll participate in clinical rotations in standard medical specialties.

How Long Does It Take To Study Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine will require years studying human physiology and anatomy.

Professionals who want to  specialize in specific areas such as the spine, ankle or hand may take a longer while.

However, on the average, it takes 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree and medical school also takes 4 years.

Further studies can add an additional one or two years to specialize.

ALSO READ: 21+ Medical Schools In Uk For International Students 2022

Step By Step Guide on How To Become An Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctor

If you want to toll the path to become an orthopedic surgeon, here is a guide that will help you;

#1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Sports medicine is a professional course that will require you to be trained in a school setting.

You need to have a bachelor’s degree from a certified and accredited institution of higher learning.

With a bachelor’s degree, you’re trained in the fundamental courses that will prepare you for a career in sports medicine.

While you make a choice of school to get an undergraduate degree in sports medicine, ensure it is accredited. 

#2. Pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Now you have an undergraduate degree to certify your knowledge in orthopedic sports medicine.

Next is to find out if you’re fit for med school?

Med school?

Yes. After your undergraduate degree, you will proceed into med school to be trained professionally as an orthopedic doctor.

The courses will differ a bit from undergraduate studies as med school is focused on application of knowledge in clinical rotations.

To be able to do that, you need to sit for a 7 hour test to prove your fitness for medical school. 

You will have to score between 472-528 to be considered ready. 

The higher you score, the higher your chances of entering into medical school.

MCAT section focuses:

  • CARS
  • Physical Sciences
  • Biological Sciences
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior

You can bypass the MCAT Test if you apply to Medical Schools That Don’t Require MCAT.

#3. Attend An Accredited Medical School

If you pass the MCAT exam, you’ll apply to medical school to study doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO). 

During the four years, you will take part in clinical rotations in standard medical facilities.

#4. Complete Your Residency Program.

Once you finish medical school, the next step is to complete your residency program.

Residency program for orthopedic sports medicine takes 5 years of on-the-job training subdivided in 2 sections.

The first years focus on general surgery and the last few years in advanced orthopedic procedures.

During residency programs, Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctors practice side-by-side with physicians and learn to build patient rapport.

#5. Complete a Fellowship

This step is for those who want to have an in-depth study of a particular body part or a sub specialty such as;

  • Pediatric orthopedics
  • Orthopedic oncology
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Surgical sports medicine
  • Hand, foot, ankle, spine surgery.

This option lasts for one or two years depending on the fellowship.

#6. Earn your License And Get Certified

Once you’re done with undergraduate and medical school, residency and fellowship programs, the next crucial step is to obtain a license.

Without a license, you will not be able to practice or work as a sports medicine doctor, physician or surgeon anywhere in the world.

The 14 years of study was a total waste of time and resources.

Therefore, once you have completed the training requirements you have to take and pass your license exam.

The licensing exam to take include either of the following;

  • The national US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
  • Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensure Examination (COMLEX) in order to practice medicine.

Passing either of the above will help you become a certified licensed orthopedic sports medicine doctor.

#7. Get Certified By A Board

Although this is not necessarily important, it’s an option that can make patients trust you.

Once licensed, orthopedic surgeons should identify with the board.

This confirms the surgeon’s dedication to their profession. 

Board certification ensures orthopedic surgeons pass inspection by a jury of their peers and are deemed competent and knowledgeable.

In America, here are the board exams that will get you certified;

  • American Board of Orthopedic Surgery (ABOS) 
  • American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery (AOBOS).

These are about 320 multiple-choice, computer-based questions. 

After which surgeons can take and pass an oral question and answer exam on their level of expertise in surgical procedure.

How Can I Easily Become A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic surgery and sports medicine
Orthopedic surgery and sports medicine

It’s already time consuming to become a certified surgeon in sports medicine. 

And fact is the candidates for residency face competition when it comes to becoming certified as a board member.

Many surgeons do not make it to become certified by the board.

To increase your chances for acceptance into medical school or residency, we have a few tips to help you stand out and start your journey.

#1. Study Science In High School

Orthopedic sports medicine is a science related profession.

To better your chances at undergraduate, medical school, residency and fellowship programs, you need to have a foundational basics in science courses.

In high school, take electives in science or medicine, this will help you meet the requirements.

#2. Earn High Scores On MCAT And Licensing Exams.

Do more than pass your MCAT Nd license exams. 

Excel in it with high scores better than the recommended average.

Studying with partners or tutors will help you understand complex areas, develop study habits or take practice exams.

#3. Have a High Medical School Grade

Med school is difficult and challenging.

When making a choice of med school, ensure to look out for one that has a track record of academic excellence and ability to place students in residencies. 

#4. Get Strong Letters Of Recommendation

A strong letter of recommendation says more than “admit him, he is a good student”.

A good endorsement in a letter of recommendation makes all the difference.

Amass a network of advisors, teachers, or other professionals that can speak to your character, devotion or commitment in a letter of recommendation.

In med school, students who have letters of recommendation from respected professionals  are more likely to be accepted.

#5. Perform Well In Clinical Rotations

Clinical rotation is the actual training where Physicians learn surgical skills essential for the sports medicine work out there.

Excelling in it will make you receive endorsements and letters of recommendation.

What Are The Licensing Requirements To Get License As Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctors?

Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so it’s best to find out if your locale has additional licensing requisites besides the following;

  • Proof of undergraduate degree.
  • Proof of medical school.
  • Residency program proof of completion.

ALSO READ: Medical School Scholarships for International Students In Canada 2022

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthopaedic Sport Medicine

How Much Does Sports Medicine Physicians Make Where They Work?

The salary structure of sports medicine physicians depends on where they work, their level of experience and the location or city where they work.

On the average, orthopedic surgeons make about $181,497 to $208,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labour data.

According to, in 2021 professionals with 1-year of experience earned $307,000, while those who have 1-4 years of experience earned $346,000. 

Tenured employees with 20 years experience or more earned $445,000 annually.

This will be different based on the reasons we gave above.

How Do I Get Certified In Sports Medicine?

Because you have an academic record to show you understand the structural and musculoskeletal system of the human body doesn’t mean you can practice that knowledge.

Sports medicine is a professional course.

To be able to practice as an orthopedic doctor, you need to be certified.

Here is a typical path to board certification in sports medicine;

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Complete medical school as DO or MD
  • Complete residency
  • Also, complete fellowship
  • Earn national and/or state license
  • Become board certified

Is Sports Medicine A Medical Specialty?

Sports medicine is not a medical specialty in itself. 

Most sports medicine surgeons, physicians and doctors are certified in internal medicine, emergency medicine, family health and other work in healthcare.

Sports medicine is like an extension of their specialty not a medical specialty.

Can I Specialize in Sports Medicine?

Yes, sports medicine doctors can specialize in any aspect of the musculoskeletal system.

Some even go ahead to advance to a subspecialty in a specific area of the body such as the spine, ankle or hand.

How Do I Remain Board Certified As A Sports Medicine Orthopaedic Doctor?

To remain board-certified, orthopedic surgeons must participate in continuing education and renew their certification through board evaluation and exams every seven to ten years. 

These requirements ensure surgeons stay current on research and new innovations.

We hope you’re able to find this article helpful in your journey to become an orthopedic doctor in sports medicine.

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Good luck!!!