WASHINGTON – Howard Universitywith the NFLthe NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Society of Professional Football Sports Coaches (PFATS), today announced the launch of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiativewhich will offer medical students from all four HBCU medical schools the opportunity to complete a clinical rotation with NFL club medical staff.
“HBCUs have a long history of serving the nation’s health needs and ensuring the vital pipeline of black physicians,” said Dr. Hugh Mighty, MD, MBA, Dean of the College of Medicine and Senior Vice President of Health Affairs at Howard University. “We salute the NFL’s contributions to advancing this mission and providing new opportunities for our students.”
The new initiative aims to increase and diversify the pool of students interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine to help make a positive impact on the field and, over time, help diversify the medical staff of clubs across the NFL.
Medical students interested in sports medicine and/or primary care orthopedic surgery from Howard University College of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Meharry Medical College will be selected by their respective schools to complete month-long clinical rotations with NFL clubs during the 2022 NFL season. A total of 16 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. In 2023, the program will expand to recruit students from other academic institutions and medical disciplines and place those students with medical staff at more NFL clubs.
A study that examines the diversity of the medical student population shows that black medical students make up just 7.3% of the total medical school population in the United States – a figure that has increased by less than 1% in the past. over the past 40 years and is well below the 13.4% of the black population in the United States.
According to the NFLPS, 86% of their members identify as white, 8% as Asian, 5% as black, and 1% as Hispanic. According to PFATS, 65% of their members identify as white, 23% as black, 8% as Hispanic and 4% as Asian.
“Increasing diversity in all roles in our league and clubs is essential. Diversity makes us stronger,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodel. “We have an opportunity to help increase the pool 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 societal benefit. I am proud that our league can help inspire the next generation of sports medicine professionals.
Through this program, the NFL, NFLPS and PFATS are working to not only diversify the medical staff of NFL clubs, but also to increase health equity for athletes across the country. The importance of diversity and representation within medical care teams is well established in the scientific and medical literature: diversity in the medical workforce leads to better patient outcomes.
“We have important work to do to ensure that NFLPS members more closely reflect the player population we treat every day,” said the NFLPS president and San 49ers chief medical officer. Francisco. Dr. Timothy McAdams. “It starts here – expanding the pipeline and encouraging medical students from diverse backgrounds to consider the possibilities of a career in sports medicine.”
The expansion of this pipeline initiative in 2023 will extend to disciplines beyond primary care sports medicine and orthopedic surgery. Some of the roles that may be included are physician assistants, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and behavioral health clinicians. Additionally, while the inaugural season of this program aims to provide Black medical students with exposure to careers in sports medicine, the NFL, NFLPS and PFATS will also work to expand the sports medicine pipeline for other people of color. and women in the coming seasons. .
“I look forward to welcoming outstanding medical students from HBCU to our medical staff this fall,” said Reggie Scott, President of the PFATS and Vice President of the LA Rams, Sports Medicine and Performance. “The representation that will come from seeing more people of color treat players on the sidelines in the NFL has the potential to inspire people of color across the country to pursue careers in sports medicine.”
During their rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of sports medicine patients at NFL clubs. Students will work directly with and under the supervision of orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians, and athletic trainers to gain basic medical knowledge and exposure to sports medicine patient care. 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 touchline for observation. By the end of the rotation, students will understand the basics of all facets of NFL player care from the perspective of orthopedics, primary care sports medicine, and sports training.
These efforts are part of the league’s broader commitment to ensure the staff and leadership of the league office and NFL clubs reflect America’s racial and gender makeup. Among NFL club medical staff, the initiative builds on existing efforts to recruit and hire diverse medical staff when positions become available in all roles, and to increase diversity on the medical committees of the NFL.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private research university comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 fields leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to excellence in truth and service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Scholars, and over 70 Fulbright Scholars. Howard is also producing more African-American doctorates on campus. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information about Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
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