Sports medicine doctors enjoy helping athletes deal with their unique sets of physical injuries and ailments. While many such physicians work for college sports teams or professional sports leagues, there are a privileged few who are accepted to work for Olympic athletes.
For many sports medicine doctors, the chance to work at the Olympic games is a great honor. However, the process for working with Olympic athletes is almost as grueling as the process the athletes must go through to make it to the games in the first place.
Here is a brief explanation of how these physicians and medical experts make their way to a position where they will be lucky enough to work with Olympians.
The U.S. Olympic committee’s sports medicine staff is located in three different training centers around the country.
These centers are located in Colorado, California, and New York. The doctors working at these centers are focused on both preventing athletic injuries, as well as helping athletes through an injury rehabilitation process.
To apply to work at one of these centers (with the potential of traveling to a Winter or Summer game at some point in the future), trainers, therapists, and physicians need to fill out an application.
In addition to resumes, CVs, and letters of reference, applicants are also asked to provide copies of their certifications and malpractice insurance.
Volunteers to the program must be US citizens with at least three years of professional experience, and have CPR qualifications. There are other requirements as well, so it is worth checking year-specific application forms.
Dr. Cindy Chang, a notable figure among sports medicine doctors, had an interesting career path that brought her to the Olympics.
She worked for Cal Athletics from 1995-2008. She also worked with Olympians in Colorado in 1996. After acting as the chief medical officer in Beijing in 2008 for the Paralympic Games, she was offered the chief medical officer job for the 2012 Olympics in London. In that position, she supervised 80 healthcare professionals.
It was a long road to become the chief medical officer at the Olympics, but it was certainly worth the wait. However, many doctors volunteer their time, meaning that in order to work for the Olympics, they must sacrifice valuable clinic hours at their regular practice.
In addition, these doctors must put in hours of study and large financial contributions to gain licenses in the country where the games are being held, if they are not being held in the United States.
It can be a stressful process, but many physicians find that the sacrifices are worth the glory and pride that comes from working with Olympic athletes.