Making the Decision to Apply

A primary care sports medicine physician is someone who has completed both a residency in primary care and a fellowship in primary care sports medicine. Most fellowships are one year but several that are run by pediatric sports medicine physicians are two year fellowships.

Before Applying

Look at possible programs:

American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM)‚Äč


Although not widely advertised, many sports medicine providers will allow for externships to occur. These may vary in duration, often for 2-4 weeks. There have been many changes in regulations, which have made some externships more difficult to arrange. Therefore, if you are considering one, contact the individual you would like to do the externship with well in advance to allow time for any necessary forms and information that both your residency program and the hosting institution need to completed. TIP: Consider an externship during October or November of your 3rd year of residency, which also is when most interviews are conducted.

Team Coverage/Sports Medicine Opportunities

Being able to cover a team or sporting events while in residency may help your decision to enter sports medicine. Most primary care sports medicine providers do have team or sporting event coverage as one of their job responsibilities. Although certainly not required by fellowship directors, prior sporting event coverage will help your confidence and give you experience in acute sports injury assessments.

If you are currently at a residency that has a sports medicine fellowship, there may be opportunities for you to cover sporting events. Check with your local sports medicine physicians as to opportunities. Team or sports medicine event coverage will make you a more competitive applicant.

If you are not at an institution that has a pediatric sports medicine physician, there are still some options to consider while developing team coverage experience. Certainly, you should check with your institution to see what sort of liability there may be and if your malpractice coverage would allow you to be involved with covering a sporting event. Most are doing it on a volunteer basis and would be covered by the Good Samaritan Law but individual states vary on interpretation of this law. Considerations for coverage may include offering to provide physician coverage for a local high school, usually for football games. This may be particularly beneficial to an inner city school (if applicable to your residency program location) that may not have any medical care to begin with. Another good option is volunteering with medical care at a local mass participation event, such as a marathon or triathalon.

Sports Medicine Organizations and Meetings

One way to become more involved would be to attend various meetings of sports medicine organizations. You will be able to meet with people who are involved in various practices, many of whom are at academic institutions that have pediatric sports medicine fellowship programs. Many have discounted rates for residents. Residents are often encouraged to submit interesting cases or to present research conducted during medical school or residency relevant to sports medicine. It is also a great way to improve your knowledge of the “hot topics” facing pediatric sports medicine physicians on a regular basis.

Some examples of meetings to consider attending or organizations to join include:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness Meeting (AAP COSMF) – “H” program:
    • Usually held on the Sunday of the AAP National Conference and Exhibition in October each year at various sites around the country
    • Cost for residents to join: $0 in addition to national dues for AAP
    • Opportunities to present: Yes. Residents are encouraged to present cases and research at the Monday program and often account for the majority of the presentations
  • American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM):
    • Annual Meeting held in the spring, usually April
    • Opportunities to present: Yes. Will need a sponsoring member of AMSSM to submit the case
    • Click here for more information
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):
    • Annual Meeting held usually in late May or early June
    • Opportunities to present: Yes
    • Click here for more information
  • Local Meetings on Sports Medicine also are good resources


If you are interested in reviewing the more common journals sports medicine physicians read you can consider the following:

  • Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine
  • Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise
  • American Journal of Sports Medicine
  • British Journal of Sports Medicine
  • Current Sports Medicine Reports
  • Sports Health
  • Physician & Sports Medicine
  • Clinics in Sports Medicine

AAP COSMF Policy Statements

There are many policy statements that have been published by the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. In fact, the Council is one of the most prolific of the Sections and Councils of the AAP at publishing policy statements. These will help to give you an idea of the major topics affecting many primary care sports medicine physicians. These can be found here.

Team Physician Consensus Statements

These are published through AMSSM and ACSM. Statements can be found at ACSM and AMSSM.

The Application Process

Applications for sports medicine fellowships are completed at the beginning of the third year of residency. Generally the updated dates for the upcoming academic year are released in June or July. Typical dates:

  • Match registration begins: September
  • Match list closes: December
  • Match day: January

The current dates are available via the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

Jobs After Fellowship

One consideration that often begins shortly after fellowship begins is the inevitable job search. Being able to narrow down several key things may help you decide where to even start. These things include location of the country you would like to practice, academic or private practice, and whether or not you want to continue with any general pediatrics.

As of this writing, there are a few places that you can search for jobs. Many jobs are initially made available by word of mouth and your fellowship director will be a good source for these as they may be asked by potential employers about soon-to-be graduating fellows. Other places include AMSSM’s job listing feature on their Web site or via postings that often occur at the AMSSM annual meeting, the job listing sections in the back of several of the common sports medicine journals and less commonly through the PedsJobs Web site.

Currently there is limited published data on standard starting salaries for primary care sports medicine providers. There has been a survey of pediatric sports medicine providers with salary data although it is fairly limited in its information offered. AMSSM also had conducted a salary survey that is available to members. There have been efforts made to make national organizations who track physician salaries aware of the growing group of primary care sports medicine providers so hopefully sometime soon there will be more concrete information for potential employers and yourself to have more educated negotiations for starting salaries.


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American Academy of Pediatrics