Howard University

HBCU medical students to participate in new NFL program

Sixteen HBCU medical students will get the chance to participate in a pilot program to increase sports medicine diversity with the NFL.

Four HBCU medical schools will have students selected for clinical rotations with NFL franchises starting in 2022.

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; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; and Meharry Medical College in Nashville will get a chance to participate in the program. It is part of a joint venture to diversity the pipeline in sports medicine between the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS). 

“We always have students interested in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, and this is an additional avenue,” said Dr. Digna Forbes, the interim dean of the school of medicine at Meharry. “The more opportunities we have for these sub specialties, it will increase diversity in those. This is important.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase our medical students, they have been going all over for these sub specialties, but with the NFL being so high profile, and to diversify the (medical) positions in the NFL, it would be great that the doctors treating them are also diverse.”

Meharry Medical College students will participate in the new program. (Meharry Medical College photo)

Sixteen students will participate in the inaugural program, two students from each HBCU at eight of the participating NFL clubs: the Falcons, Bengals, Chargers, Rams, Giants, 49ers, Titans and Commanders.

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. 

“On the whole, a day would consist of a mixture of time with the athletic training staff, observing treatments and assessments and rehabilitation care,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “They would also spend time with team physicians and learn how they diagnose and treat injury rehab. Perhaps they would attend a surgical procedure that involves an athlete. And then they would be attending a team practice.

“All of those elements allow them to appreciate what the entire athletic training staff does, how the medical team works together.”

Selected students will learn return-to-play guidelines and on-field treatments for players. The opportunity to be on the sideline for observation during games is being considered.

HBCU medical students to participate in new NFL program
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