The National Football League, together with the NFL Physicians Society and the Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society, has announced the launch of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. The program will provide medical students at the nation’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities medical schools with the opportunity to complete a clinical rotation with the medical staff of NFL teams. The initiative aims to increase and diversify the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine to help make a positive impact in the field and, over time, help to diversify medical staff of NFL teams.
Medical students interested in primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, and Meharry Medical College in Nashville will be selected by their respective schools to complete one-month clinical rotations with NFL clubs during the 2022 NFL season. A total of 16 total students will participate in this inaugural season, two students each at 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.
During their rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of sports medicine patients in NFL club settings. Students will work directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians, and athletic trainers to gain basic medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine. Additionally, students will become familiar with return-to-play guidelines and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players. Students may also have the opportunity to attend home games and be present on the sideline for observation.
“Increasing diversity across every role in our league and at our clubs is essential. Diversity makes us stronger,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We have an opportunity to help increase the pipeline of diverse sports medicine professionals, which is imperative for us as a league. This initiative is an example of how we can lend our platform for a societal benefit.”
Note: A group of former NFL coaches has filed a lawsuit against the league and some teams for racial discrimination in hiring practices. Three of the 32 NFL teams have Black head coaches. About 70 percent of the players in the NFL are Black.