Do you make it your mission to live a healthy lifestyle? Do you work to encourage the people you are around to also live a healthy lifestyle? Do you think that you could be successful in encouraging people that you do not know to make changes that would be more health conscious? If you answered yes to each of these questions then you will likely be a perfect candidate to receive a bachelor's degree in a fitness and nutrition related field of study. This is a growing industry, so by pursuing your degree you are ensuring your success in this career path. Of course, before you can begin working towards your degree in sports medicine you first must obtain your high school diploma, or the equivalent.
It is important to understand that not all traditional colleges and universities offer the same degree programs. More specific to this industry, many colleges offer a bachelor's degree program in sports medicine, some colleges offer a degree program in nutrition, and some post-secondary schools offer a bachelor's degree program that combines these two fields of study. Regardless of which career path you choose to pursue you will likely have to complete courses in the areas of: meal preparation, weight loss counseling, biology, chemistry, exercise methods, nutritional training, physiology, sports training, communication, homeopathy, and natural health.
Keep in mind, your bachelor's degree in the area of sports, fitness, or nutrition will probably only allow you to seek employment in an entry level position. In order to be qualified to work in a higher level position, to work within a public health facility, to have a position in health promotion, or to conduct research you will need to pursue a higher level of educational degree. However, with your degree you will be able to work as a physical trainer, a fitness counselor, a nutritionist, a nutrition counselor, a corporate wellness advocate, or a health teacher. It is likely for you to seek employment within a natural health store, a retail nutrition store, a community health center, a health club, a hospital, or a school.
Of course, within the broad area of sports, fitness, and nutrition you can pursue a more specific area of study. For instance, if you focus on sports nutrition you will spend your time helping athletes to eat as healthy as possible. You could also choose to focus on health and exercise science. This course of study will teach you about personal training, injury prevention, and nutritional concepts. Should you pursue a degree in exercise physiology you will be required to complete classes in the areas of biochemistry, biology, and nutrition. Kinesiology majors work to learn about how the body works in motion, and how the body relates to the aspects of sports, fitness, and nutrition.
After you have completed the course work necessary to obtain your bachelor's degree in sports, fitness, or nutrition you may have to also obtain your licensure. Since the licensure requirements vary from one state to another you will want to check into what is mandated by the state in which you reside.
Sports medicine is big business and you’ll need to be able to work well with others to be successful. Below are some of the top qualities you’ll need.
Knowledgeable – Clients are going to come to you because of your knowledge you have in sports medicine and how you have helped others with nutrition and injuries. It is important that you showcase all of your skills and focus in on a particular type of sports medicine.
Communication –Follow up with your clients is key. You need to be a good listener to find out how you can help but also be able to effectively communicate back to the client what they need to do.
Compassion – The goal is to get your client back playing as quickly as possible. Professional sports medicine doctors are in great demand as the players need to be back playing or it could cost their team a loss and revenue.
Relationships – Every player has a good relationship with those that help them get better. You need to form a relationship ad bond with the player so you know what they need.
Ethical – Take no short cuts. Often players want to take short cuts by not taking your advice or even seeking unethical doctors that can be disastrous to their career.
Entrepreneur – It is important to build your practice, be specialized.
Gary Mckinney, Sports Medicine Therapist
I was a baseball pitcher in college and unfortunately I tore my rotator cuff mid-season my Junior year. I would have probably been drafted so my career was over as a pitcher. I was studying to become a sports therapist and knew that I wanted to stick with the field so I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and went directly into a graduate program.
Currently I work for a minor league baseball team. A common issue I face with these young players is pre-season injuries. What happens is they don’t’ train as much as they should during the off-season so right before the season starts they think they can just cram 6 months of training into a few weeks and they get injured. I have to determine if I can help or if they need surgery. Often we can nurse them back to health. Also education plays a big part of my job as all of these young players want to make it to the big leagues so some of them do things that involve illegal substances hoping not to get caught.
Biggest advice I have for anyone looking to get into the sports medicine field is to stay in school as long as you can and earn the highest degree possible. This will help you get a job but also you need time to mature and work other jobs to see if this will be something you want to do as a career.