A taster week in sports medicine

The Gait Way to Sport and Exercise Medicine  a BJSM blog series 

By Dr Scott Osborne @DrScottOsborne

A ‘taster week’ is the opportunity for newly qualified doctors in the UK to spend up to five days gaining experience in a specialty of their choice. Having previously worked with sports medicine consultant Dr Andrew Murray (@docandrewmurray), I arranged my five-day-taster through him and was lucky to work with the medical team at the 2019 European Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow.

The Local Organising Committee medical team services all 750 athletes and 1250 additional members of their teams at the event. The medical team consisted of doctors, physiotherapists and podiatrists. Of the doctors, there were a variety of consultants and registrars from multiple specialties: sports medicine, GP, anaesthesia, emergency medicine, paediatrics and orthopaedics. Medical care was provided at multiple venues in Glasgow, including a central polyclinic in the city centre, both training venues (Scotstoun Stadium and Tollcross International Swimming Centre), and the competition venue (Emirates Arena).

Figure 1: Transporting trackside equipment in Glasgow sun
Figure 2: Medical room with physiotherapy services

My experience 

I helped assess patients that presented with head injuries, lacerations, viral illnesses, fractures, collapse, muscle strains, forgotten medications, and spinal immobilisation. The majority of these were able to be cared for immediately (e.g. reassurance, monitoring observations, simple prescriptions, ultrasonography) but some required referral to secondary care (e.g. more advanced radiology [X-ray or MRI], surgical washout for deep laceration). In these latter cases, the ability to liaise with a local emergency medicine consultant (Dr Jonathan Gordon) was paramount to streamline care for the athletes.

What did I learn? 

Comprehensive medical service for an event of this magnitude requires a lot of preparation. This includes recruiting doctors with appropriate skills, sourcing equipment for both acute care and long-term management and managing the logistics of mobile medical services.

Here are some tips for making the most in a new job environment:

  • Introduce yourself confidently and clearly to each member of the multidisciplinary team and learn everyone’s names. Having large name badges helps!
  • Know and understand the logistics of patient care (e.g. role of each team member, resource management, delegation of skills, communication methods, escalation of care)
  • Appreciate that you can learn something from everyone you speak to
  • Develop and appreciate the ‘soft skills’ of medicine e.g. teamwork and communication (without which the ‘hard skills’ e.g. knowledge would be unable to be used effectively)

Experience (including leadership and management skills) in this kind of setting is useful for those looking to set up similar medical clinics in other situations which require mobile medical services e.g. a music festival, or even a refugee camp.

Figure 3: Emirates Arena 60m track

The highlight? 

Having grown up in Glasgow, I watched Laura Muir run her winning lap in the 1500m in front of the home crowd. The last time I saw a Glasgow crowd roar in such unison, Franz Ferdinand were still playing live shows!

It was a great week. I not only gained more sports medicine experience, I got to network with several doctors who share an interest in this field. I also understood the skills and effort required to provide comprehensive medical care with a multidisciplinary team (it’s no easy job!). I would highly recommend any junior doctor interested in sports medicine to arrange a similar taster week.

Figure 4: Emirates Arena


Scott Osborne @DrScottOsborne is a junior doctor (FY2) in Edinburgh. He is currently Scotland Rep for Undergraduate Sports & Exercise Medicine Society, and was previously President of Edinburgh University Sports and Exercise Medicine Society. He is trying to facilitate taster weeks in sports medicine among other junior doctors. If interested, please email on scottosborne1993@gmail.com

Tej Pandya @PandyaTej is a medical student at the University of Manchester and co-ordinator of a new BJSM blog series aimed at undergraduates and recently qualified doctors. If you wish to contribute, please email him at tej1pandya@hotmail.com 

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