A MUST read for any Undergraduate Student considering a career in Sports & Exercise Medicine

Undergraduate perspective on Sport & Exercise Medicine – a BJSM blog

By Andrew Shafik (@aaashafik)


Aberdeen Sports & Exercise Medicine Society@aberdeen_sems recently held its first ever event #ASEMSWelcomeTalk. This general introduction to SEM featured three speakers from varying disciplines: Professor Francis Smith (SEM Consultant), Ashley Armstrong (Sports Physiotherapist) and John Psyllas (Scottish Institute of Sport S&C Coach).

The talks all shared a common theme of  ‘General SEM Advice’ with a few KEY TAKE HOME points for any Undergraduate Student considering a career in Sports & Exercise Medicine:

  1. Get experience
  • Start at the grassroots and work your way up (Professor Smith). This will allow you to gain the respect of your colleagues once you are established and working within the field, making you the best person for the job.
  • Some great establishments for gaining experience include the military and BUCS, who are happy to have students shadowing SEM professionals.
  • Contact your local sports clubs. Medical and physiotherapy students may be able to assist in pitch side care if they have certain Sports First Aid requirements, allowing first hands SEM experience at the grassroots level.
  1. Network/Mentor
  • The guys at the top are OPEN and APPROACHABLE so get in touch with them to gain experience, discuss a SEM piece of work that interests you or even to ask for general advice. The worst they can say is No.
  • Be the dumbest person in the room (John Psyllas)- continually surround yourself with clever people and you will always find yourself learning something new. Finding a mentor who has already undergone the SEM training process can prove invaluable to teaching you the ropes of SEM.
  • Networking is key– networking will assist you with getting experience, getting your foot in the door and potential work opportunities. Ashley and John shared that many of the opportunities they both had of working in elite sport have come through their network once getting their feet in the door. Professor Smith also shared the story of Dr Jonathan Hanson (@SportsDocSkye) who started off his SEM career as a student when he shadowed Professor Smith at Montrose FC during his intercalated degree.
  1. Education/accreditation
  • Education- courses such as MSc Sports & Exercise Medicine may not be deemed essential when applying for certain SEM jobs but can allow you to pip competition i.e. ‘Maximise your chances by doing everything you can’ (Ashley Armstrong)
  • Accreditation- courses (such as SCRUMCAPS Advanced Trauma First Aid) may assist you with certain SEM opportunities
  1. CPD- continue to develop yourself through
  • Books/journals/conferences/workshops/network/social media
  • Twitter & Facebook are very useful sources in keeping up to date with HOT SEM topics/research- follow conference hash tags and SEM professionals can also be very beneficial
  1. Research
  • Research- involve yourself in research as well as keeping up to date with the latest research through journals such as the BJSM
  • Blogs- get writing about SEM topics that interest you (like I’m doing here)
  1. Family/relationships
  • A very important point but largely missed out, you need to have supportive and understanding family/friends as SEM is a field that can involve long hours and lots of travel so a stable support network is crucial.
  1. Eyes on the prize!
  • Similar to anything in life, there will be a lot of sacrifices along the way. Keeping your ‘eyes on the prize’ will keep you goal-orientated and motivated at all times.

Special thank you to the 3 speakers who made our first event so successful:

  • Professor Francis Smith- ASEMS Honorary President
  • Ashley Armstrong @ashleya262
  • John Psyllas @Johnpsyllas85


Andrew Shafik (@aaashafik) is a fourth year medical student at the University of Aberdeen with a keen interest in SEM. He is a footballer playing for Aberdeen University Men’s Football Club 1st XI. He is Co-Founder & Co-President @aberdeen_sems and an Ambassador for Move.Eat.Treat.

Stay tuned to the undergrad series – we have some exciting new announcements coming soon!



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