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NFL announces 2023 roster of medical students in 'Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative'


The National Football League (NFL), together with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), announced the roster of medical students who will participate in the second year of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, which aims to increase and diversify the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine and, over time, help to diversify NFL club medical staffs. The students' clinical rotations will begin as training camps open for the 2023 NFL season next week.

Last year's pilot program hosted 14 students at eight NFL clubs. This season, the program will expand league-wide to more than double the number of students in the program's second year. Diverse students from 19 medical schools will complete clinical rotations with NFL club medical staffs focused on primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery.

Participating students hail from the country's four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) medical schools as well as other medical schools local to NFL clubs. 

"The NFL and our club medical staffs are thrilled to welcome these impressive medical students from around the country to the league this season," said NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills. "The league-wide expansion of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative this season demonstrates strong interest in sports medicine from diverse and under-represented medical students and is indicative of our clubs' commitment to diversity in all facets of the game." 

During their one-month rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of NFL players, working directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians and athletic trainers to gain 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. By the end of the rotation, students will understand the basic elements of all facets of care provided to NFL players from an orthopedic, primary care sports medicine and athletic training perspective.

"We are incredibly excited to participate in the second year of such an impactful and important diversity program," said NFLPS President and San Francisco 49ers head team physician Timothy McAdams, MD. "Mentorship is a critical component of recruiting students into our field, so we're thrilled to immerse more talented medical students with diverse backgrounds into the NFL clubs' medical communities. We're all looking forward to watching this program continue to grow and impact more medical students in years to come."

"What an exciting time to launch the second year of the Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative," said Reggie Scott, PFATS Past President and Los Angeles Rams Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance. "The league-wide expansion is just a testament to the commitment of diversity initiatives in the health and safety space in the NFL. We look forward to the continued growth with this program to create opportunities and experiences for so many diverse medical students."

As the program continues to grow, the league aims to further expand the pipeline initiative in the coming years to include additional disciplines, spanning additional roles in the NFL's player care "Team Behind the Team" including physician assistants, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists and behavioral health clinicians.

The Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative is part of the league's broader commitment to ensure that staff and leaders in the league office and at NFL clubs reflect the racial and gender makeup of America. Among NFL club medical staffs, the initiative builds on existing efforts to recruit and hire diverse medical staff when positions become available across all roles, and to increase diversity across NFL medical committees.

Students participating in the program this year expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity and optimism about the future of diversity in sports medicine:

"This opportunity would not have been possible without God - with Him, I'm thankful. Looking forward to going back to my athletic roots in my hometown!" – Valdemar Wany, Morehouse School of Medicine, New York Giants



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