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What do NHL (hockey teams) look for in they're trainers/ doctors?

I'm looking into going into the Sports Medicine field, into the hockey field as those injuries are what i know and like best to deal with. I just want to know what they look for degree wise in they're trainers/doctors so I can do the right degrees to get into what I love? doctor medicine sports degrees sports-medicine ice-hockey

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Subject: Career question for you


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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Breana,

  • Many students who are interested in going on to medical school complete a bachelor’s degree with a pre-med concentration that gives them a solid foundation in biology, chemistry and physics. Getting into medical school can be competitive, so students must complete the courses and have excellent grades to be a good applicant. Students will also be required to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in order to get into medical school. Those interested in sports medicine are usually sports lovers themselves, often involved in some kind of team or individual sports activity.

  • Most sports doctors complete a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. These degree programs generally involve four years of academic coursework in biology, biochemistry, anatomy, pathology, psychology, physiology, medical ethics and pharmacology. Medical students must also complete a clinical residency, which gives hands-on practice in a variety of clinical settings under the supervision of doctors and healthcare professionals.

  • To prepare for this, doctors complete a two-year fellowship in sports medicine at a hospital, rehabilitation facility or university athletic department. These two years expose doctors to different types of athletic-related injuries and methods of diagnosing and treating them. Additionally, the fellowship provides experience with orthopedic surgeries, rehabilitative techniques, brain trauma, nutrition and performance psychology. Orthopedic surgeons can also apply for fellowships in this field but added qualification certification is not required.

  • A three-year residency in primary care, emergency, internal or rehabilitative medicine offers suitable training for a sports medicine specialization, though some students choose a five-year residency in orthopedic surgery. It may be possible to secure an elective rotation in sports medicine during this stage.

  • In addition to a license, doctors may seek certification by a recognized professional organization. This certification will help make the doctor a better job candidate since it will show that he or she has met the organization’s professional requirements and is staying up-to-date in developments in this subspecialty through continuing education courses. Certification in sports medicine is offered by the following organizations:

American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS)

American Osteopathic Association (AOA)

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Sports doctors possess empathy, compassion and good communication and problem-solving skills in order to provide the best treatment to their patients. This medical specialty also requires good dexterity and stamina.



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Kevin’s Answer

Best of the Village

Hi Breana,

I'm glad to hear that your interested in the athletic training profession! Just a bit about me - I'm an credentialed and licensed athletic trainer and orthopedic technologist at Nemours Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. I recieved my undergraduate degree in Athletic Training and a Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from West Chester University in West Chester, PA, followed by a Fellowship at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO. And like you, I am also a hockey player - so I understand your passion.

To become an Athletic Trainer there are 2 routes.
1. Obtain a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college, sit for the board of certification exam, and gain licensure in your state. (4 years of education) Or 2. Obtain a bachelors degree in a health science related field (i.e. kinesiology, rehab sciences, exercise science, biology etc). Apply for an entry-level Masters' Athletic Training program. Sit for the board of certification exam, and gain licensure in your state. (6 years of education).

Now, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education have transitioned away from the bachelors degree and will require the 2nd option (bachelors in a related field followed by an entry level masters in athletic training) within the next 7 years - most likely affecting you.

To get a job at the professional or collegiate level in ice hockey, most programs would look for a certified athletic trainer through the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification with licensure in their specified state and a Masters degree and minimum 3-5 years of experience. Previous experience playing or working with ice hockey would also be helpful. The website below is dedicated to professional hockey athletic trainers and equipment managers. Best of luck!

For more information about the athletic training profession visit:

Warm regards,

Kevin A. Keene, MS, ATC, OTC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Nemours A.I.Dupont Pediatric Hospital