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Editor,—I read the section on sports medicine education in the August issue of the journal with great interest because of the issues raised for all of us involved. It stimulated me to raise two points.Br J Sports Med 2001;35:78
Firstly, although it is desirable for undergraduate medical students to be introduced to sports medicine, it does seem to be an area of practice that seems very appropriate for continuing medical education and for postgraduate qualifications. Although a case can be made out for medical practitioners who wish to practice full time in sports medicine, the number of such practitioners will be relatively few. The much greater need is for the “up-skilling” in sports medicine of medical practitioners whatever their practice—family medicine, emergency medicine, rehabilitation medicine, paediatrics, orthopaedics. There is a great need for much better “duty of care” in sports medicine practice by local medical practitioners with regard to promotion of physical activity, recreational sport, school and regional sporting teams, and community sporting and physical activity events.
Secondly, the useful article by Professor Peter Fricker on sports medicine education in Australia does contain statements that require correction for the public record.
He states that there are two classes of medical practitioners with an interest in the practice of sports medicine in Australia: sports physicians and “sports medicine practitioners”. In fact, there are now two discipline bodies representing medical practitioners in Sports Medicine Australia, the Australian College of Sports Physicians and Sports Doctors Australia, members of which quite properly refer to themselves as sports doctors, either possessing a Masters of Sports Medicine or demonstrating a continuing involvement in sports medicine. This new body was formed two years ago in response to a request from Sports Medicine Australia to represent doctors who wished to incorporate sports medicine into their existing practice.
In referring to the sports medicine programmes at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Professor Fricker states that the teaching in these programs is carried out by “sports physicians and researchers”. In fact, in the distance delivery postgraduate programs (MSpMed, GradDipSpMed, GradCertSpMed), teaching is conveyed in weekly video presentations in which the contribution of sports physicians is 20%, valuable particularly in the area of musculoskeletal medicine. As is to be expected in the multidisciplinary area of sports medicine, 80% of teaching is provided by medical physiologists such as myself, cardiologists, rehabilitation physicians, rheumatologists, ophthalmologists, anatomists, respiratory physiologists, orthopaedic surgeons, sports scientists, sports dietitians, sports psychologists, pharmacologists, biomechanists, radiologists, physiotherapists, sports lawyers. This distribution of teaching load also holds in our CME one week courses.