Academics

NFL selects 14 HBCU students for pilot medical program

Students from several HBCU medical schools will be a part of a new initiative by the NFL starting this fall.

The NFL, together with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS), announced the roster of medical students who will participate in the inaugural season 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 help to diversify NFL club medical staff.

The 14 students selected by their medical schools to participate in the program will complete clinical rotations with NFL club medical staffs this fall.

Participating students hail from the country’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) medical schools – Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Meharry Medical College. Their clinical rotations will focus on primary care sports medicine or orthopedic surgery. They will each be embedded within the medical staff of one of eight NFL clubs: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders.

“I am thrilled to welcome these outstanding medical students to our clubs this fall,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. “This program will be an opportunity not only for these students to learn from NFL club medical staff, but also to develop mentoring relationships that will help them throughout their careers. As we embark on the first season of this initiative, I am hopeful that our efforts to diversify the pipeline of students interested in sports medicine will have long-lasting positive effects on the medical care athletes receive well beyond NFL players.”

The students selected to participate in the program’s inaugural season include:

NameMedical SchoolNFL Club
Kadarius BurgessCharles R. Drew University of Medicine and ScienceLos Angeles Rams
Regan BurgessHoward University College of MedicineCincinnati Bengals
Alexandra Cancio-BelloHoward University College of MedicineNew York Giants
Omolayo DadaMorehouse School of MedicineSan Francisco 49ers
Yomiyou GeletaMeharry Medical CollegeTennessee Titans
Paolo GilleranMorehouse School of MedicineAtlanta Falcons
Eddie GonteeMorehouse School of MedicineAtlanta Falcons
Kelsey HendersonMeharry Medical CollegeTennessee Titans
Jason MooreHoward University College of MedicineLos Angeles Chargers
Justin MooreHoward University College of MedicineWashington Commanders
Andrew NaklaMeharry Medical CollegeSan Francisco 49ers
Felipe OcampoCharles R. Drew University of Medicine and ScienceLos Angeles Rams
Jessica SmithHoward University College of MedicineWashington Commanders
Kayla ThomasHoward University College of MedicineNew York Giants

The students’ one-month clinical rotations will begin as the 2022 NFL season kicks off in September. During their rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of NFL players. 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 attend home games and be present on the sideline for observation. 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 delighted to be welcoming the first class and hosting two of the medical students with our team, the 49ers,” said Dr. Timothy McAdams, NFLPS President and San Francisco 49ers head team physician. “Being able to be a part of this program to bring more diversity into sports medicine is an honor and privilege.”

In 2023, the program will seek to expand to recruit students from additional academic institutions and medical disciplines and place those students with medical staffs at additional NFL clubs.

These efforts are part of the league’s broader commitment to ensuring 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.

NFL selects 14 HBCU students for pilot medical program
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