Undergraduate perspective on Sports & Exercise Medicine – a BJSM blog series
By Hannah Preston
I agree with Liam’s blog on the state of Sport & Exercise Medicine (SEM) at an undergraduate level. Unfortunately the same problems face medical students interested in SEM here in Scotland.
To date the only insight into SEM for students has been a solitary talk from Dr. James Robson (Scottish Rugby and Lions Doctor). The promotion of the new NHS training pathway in SEM has yet to filter down to undergraduate level here in Scotland, leaving students perplexed as to possible career paths.
Over the summer I gained an insight into a SEM doctor’s role whilst shadowing Dr. Robson at a Scottish RFU training camp prior to their World Cup campaign. I was hooked and enthused to pursue a career in SEM. To build on this interest, I undertook an intercalated degree at Loughborough University in Sports and Exercise Health Sciences. I highly recommend that undergraduates should consider a similar path. It takes you out of your usual medic comfort circle and immerses you in a completely different environment that will nourish your enthusiasm for SEM. I found the experience invaluable and it has enabled me to get my foot into the SEM door.
Attending the recent Faculty of Sport & Exercise Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting in Edinburgh, I was inspired by the presentations from undergraduates across UK already active in SEM and pleased that others were in attendance. The take home messages – students can help promote physical activity at bedside teaching sessions or when learning on the wards. Simply adding in questions about physical activity into history taking can help promote, encourage and educate the importance of physical activity on health in those that currently do not engage enough.
It suddenly struck me. We weren’t catering for those students at Edinburgh University interested in SEM. Shocking when you consider that we have the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine right on our doorstep in the centre of Edinburgh and Scotland is home to many innovative physical activity campaigns. I decided that something had to be done at undergraduate level to address this!
This November saw the launch of the Edinburgh Sports & Exercise Medicine Society (ESEMS). I set up this society to increase the awareness of SEM for medical students in Edinburgh, provide appropriate education and facilitate experience in the field. I encourage any other students at medical schools that do not have an SEM society to go and set one up – all it takes is a little effort, admin and buckets of enthusiasm!
ESEMS will help Scotland’s aim to promote awareness amongst medical students to integrate physical activity into each and every patient consultation. With the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games just around the corner, ESEMS will look to proactively preach about the health benefits of physical activity to future doctors to ensure this event can be used as a successful vehicle to change Scottish health behaviours! London 2012 has aimed to ‘inspire a generation’ and as ‘tomorrow’s doctors’ medical students should be encouraged to promote this public health message. What are we waiting for? Let’s get active!
Hannah Preston BSc (Hons) is a third year medical student at Edinburgh University, having undertaken an intercalated BSc in Sports and Exercise Health Medicine at Loughborough Univerisity. She is the founder and President of Edinburgh Sports and Exercise Medicine Society (ESEMS) and is president of Edinburgh University Lacrosse Club.
Liam West BSc (Hons) is a final year medical undergraduate student at Cardiff University, Wales. He coordinates the “Undergraduate Perspective on Sports & Exercise Medicine” Blog Series for BJSM.