By Dominic Mah @DomMah_ and David Bui @David_Bui_
You’re nearing the final years of medical school (or maybe you finished a while ago!), and now you’re looking for ways to develop your interest in sport and exercise medicine. Postgraduate SEM study (incl. intercalated degrees – the Bachelor of Science degree you can fit in during medical school) is becoming increasingly popular for the budding SEM practitioner. BJSM shines the light on postgraduate SEM and sports physiotherapy programmes around the globe (1-4). With the busy clinician in mind, these reviews outline the course curriculum, duration and cost, and identify any particular focus area and strength. To complement that BJSM educational series, here are 10 reasons to consider undertaking postgraduate SEM study.
- Upskill in SEM knowledge – Postgraduate university studies in SEM offer a wide diversity in their learning modules, which also often includes elective modules. There is even variation in the types of SEM degrees that can be undertaken – e.g. MSc SEM (Football) at University of Birmingham, or MSc in Sports Cardiology at St George’s (University of London). It is important to build a well-rounded, extensive knowledge base, prior to diving into the clinical side of SEM.
- Have a genuine interest in SEM – This reason must be the #1 priority, given it is hard work and takes up quite a significant amount of time! Remember that postgrad degrees are not limited to the budding SEM physician / physiotherapist. Other medical professionals, including general practitioners, can also develop their interest in SEM and even sub-specialise for sports-related injuries.
- Stand out from the crowd – With SEM-related training and job positions becoming increasingly competitive, it is more important than ever to take initiative and put yourself on an elevated platform. Professional development is always looked upon highly.
- Networking with leaders in SEM – One of the best ways to excel in any field is to learn from and follow the path of those before you. Undertaking postgraduate study is one great way to meet new mentors, who will be able to guide you. Learn from them. Pick their brains. Be inspired.
- Networking with like-minded students – They will become your future colleagues. Bounce ideas off each other, spur each other on. It’s hard not to be inspired in a motivated environment!
- Conduct a supervised research project (MSc dissertation) – All MSc programs require students to complete a supervised project, also known as the MSc dissertation. Research methods and literature review modules prepare students for the research process, before you undertake a project yourself with the ultimate aim of having your work published.
- Opportunity for flexible learning – Being able to juggle work, exercise, life and study is a reality in this day and age, and having flexibility with time is more important than ever. As a consequence, an increasing number of courses can be done online. This includes the IOC Diploma of Sports Medicine. Programs often also allow both full-time and part-time options, allowing students to delay their study during busy periods. Intercalated SEM degrees (or Bachelor of Medical Science in Australia) also enable students to undertake such study before entering the medical workforce.
- Learn more about sports & exercise physiology and biomechanics – These topics are not covered in most undergraduate medical curricula, yet are extremely relevant to the SEM clinician. The role of exercise in medicine is also often neglected. In addition, elective modules within programs also offer the opportunity for students to explore other sub-interests – e.g. sports psychology.
- Introduction to SEM clinical practice – Some programs include placements where students sit in SEM clinics with physicians. This is a valuable stepping-stone to gain first-hand supervised clinical experience in SEM before entering the high-pressure SEM environment.
- Opportunity to travel – If there is no online option, undertaking a postgraduate / intercalated program often means a change of location from your original university. This offers the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, and experience sports medicine in a different setting!
That being said, the knowledge gained from the degree should be balanced with work experience, as working in sport has challenges that university courses simply cannot prepare you for.
We’d love to hear your experiences of postgraduate SEM programs, and we encourage institutes to contact BJSM to facilitate potential review.
Dominic Mah (@DomMah_) is a current medical student at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). He is interested in SEM and all things musculoskeletal, and was the President of the University of New South Wales Sports Medicine Society in 2017. He is always looking for new opportunities to immerse himself in the exciting world of SEM. All enquiries on the blog can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Bui (@David_Bui_) is an unaccredited Orthopaedic registrar at Nepean Hospital with a clear interest in Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. He is the previous Founder and President of the University of New South Wales Sports Medicine Society.
For more information on the UNSW Sports Medicine Society:
- Culvenor AG. Cardiff Metropolitan University: The latest academic and practical developments in a Masters of Sport and Exercise Medicine (continuing professional development series) Br J Sports Med 2017;51:1171-2.
- Culvenor AG. University of Bath: Internationally renowned Master of Science (MSc) programmes in Sport and Exercise Medicine and Sports Physiotherapy for the busy clinician (continuing professional development series) Br J Sports Med 2017;51:1773-5.
- Culvenor AG. University of Birmingham: An innovative Masters of Exercise and Sports Medicine in partnership with The Football Association (continuing professional development series) Br J Sports Med 2018 (epub ahead of print; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-098432).
- Sole G. University of Otago: towards specialisation with a Masters in Physiotherapy, endorsed in Sports Physiotherapy (continuing professional development series). Br J Sports Med 2017;51:481-2.