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What is sports medicine? Medical students don't know
  1. Benjamin Baby
  1. 4th year medical student, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, United Kingdom

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    Editor,—A large proportion of the population participates in sport occasionally and these envelope a devoted core that plays often. As sport is a large part of British culture and its practice has direct effects on the body, one may infer that its study is of significance to doctors. Logically, a medical student would have an interest in learning about such a topic, as it would be a factor in future patient care. It should follow that medical schools would seek to include compulsory sports medicine training as part of a well rounded undergraduate curriculum. This is, unfortunately, not the case.

    Few medical schools include compulsory training in sports medicine. Often, the only exposure a student receives is sport related fracture management during an orthopaedic rotation. Consequently, many medical students have little idea what sports medicine is and do not realise that it encompasses much more than treatment of injury.1

    A sports trained doctor may be better able to advise on sport as part of a healthy lifestyle for both the lay population and athletes. This type of training allows the doctor to have greater understanding of how sport can affect a patient's health and how their health can be affected by sport.

    It is encouraging that some medical schools have begun to include sports medicine in their curriculum, including electives for clinical students. Glasgow University leads the way with an intercalated BSc programme designed specifically for medical undergraduates.2 More compulsory sports medicine needs to be instituted, so that even if a student is not interested in it as a career, he/she will be better equipped to understand and deal with sport related issues in future clinical practice.

    Greater exposure at the undergraduate level is also likely to spark further interest and recruitment to what is a new and exciting area of medicine.

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