Becoming a sports medicine physician requires completing a four-year pre-medical degree at an accredited college, plus an additional four years of medical school. After these educational requirements are met, sports medicine physicians must complete a medical residency and fellowship before continuing on to obtain a state license. Education and training required to become a sports medicine physician should take about 15 years in total. There is a step-by-step educational process required to obtain a sports medicine license in the United States.
First, it is necessary to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in pre-med at an accredited four-year university. Until recently, four-year colleges did not offer pre-med programs specialized in sports medicine. Now, most colleges have departments specializing in sports medicine, kinesiology, or exercise science. A prospective sports medicine physicians must complete a four-year pre-med degree. This degree can be obtained at any accredited university, online or on-campus. Applicants to medical school must also take and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice exam. MCAT scores are a competitive factor in medical school admissions.
After being accepted to medical school, prospective sports medicine physicians must obtain either a doctorate of medicine (MD) or a doctorate of osteopathic medicine (DO). Both MDs and DOs require four years of medical school. Holders of MDs and DOs have the equal rights and privileges of practice and complete the same programs of residency and fellowship.
New physicians must complete either a three- or five-year residency before continuing on to a two-year fellowship. Becoming a primary care physician requires three years of residency in family medicine and other practices. Orthopedic surgeons must complete five years of surgical training. Those choosing the primary care track must continue on to complete another two years of fellowship training, working alongside doctors to learn the causes and treatments of sports-related injuries. Once the fellowship is complete, prospective physicians must apply for a state medical license. Each state has its own licensing program. Obtaining a state license is the last step in becoming a sports medicine physician.
Becoming a sports medicine physician is a lengthy process that typically takes more than 10 years. However, sports medicine physicians can expect to earn more than $200,000 per year. Like any medical license, obtaining a sports medicine license is a step-by-step process.