Quote from <3nurseE>
I am just curious if anyone can help me with this. I have a previous bachelors degree in exercise physiology were I worked for 2 years with swimmers and also cardiac patients. I now have a job in Step-down Cardiology.
I am curious about a career change in sports medicine. I have always wanted to be a part of a professional sports team whether in the capacity of a nurse or an exercise physiologist. I am wondering if there is a career out there were I can use my combined talents? Any help would be much appreciated!!!
If you're looking to become part of a sports team in some kind of medical capacity, you will have a much better chance of getting a job as an exercise physiologist than you would as a nurse. The reason is, nurses do not possess the requisite knowledge to function safely and competently in a sports medicine role. This is not a ding against nurses, rather it is a reflection that in order to safely care for athletes, a very highly specialized education must be sought. Just as it takes a nurse approximately 2 years of schooling to become a good and safe beginner, it takes an athletic trainer approximately 2 years of highly specialized education plus internship time over those two years to become a safe and competent beginner athletic trainer. A nurse that has worked in the ED or in the ICU would have at least some idea of how to assess a broken athlete, but would lack the specific diagnostic skills that would be necessary to determine whether or not the athlete needs to be seen by the orthopedic surgeon or can be treated in house. And orthopedic nurse would probably have the requisite skills for creating somewhat appropriate casts and braces that are necessary, but would probably lack the same diagnostic skills to determine extent of injury. A rehab nurse would probably have some idea of how to appropriately rehabilitate that athlete from injury, but may lack the specific knowledge of injury physiology necessary to do a very aggressive job of athlete rehab, and also would lack much of the assessment and diagnostic skills necessary. In advanced practice nurse, such as a nurse practitioner, would certainly have the basic fundamentals of physical exam to determine injury but would probably lack the experience and since I feel necessary to accurately determine the extent of damage/injury. A nurse practitioner that works in orthopedics would probably have most of the education necessary to do a fairly decent job.
In short, most nurses would not be a good fit for a pro team in terms of being able to care for athletes. Probably the closest non-athletic trainer occupation that would be able to competently do the job would be either a physical therapist or an occupational therapist, and even that practitioner would need some additional education.
The other part of the whole story is that most states, but not all states, require that person's functioning in an athletic training capacity be licensed, and that requires certification by the NATA BOC, and to the best of my knowledge there is no bridge course, transition course, or any other sort of coursework other than the "traditional" method by which a person gets a Masters degree or a Bachelors degree in Sports Medicine, with all of the clinical/internship hours completed, and be qualified to sit for the exam.
As a nurse, I would expect that your only route available to work with a pro team in a sports medicine capacity would be to become a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Sports Medicine or Orthopedics, and who works in collaboration with the team Physician. Otherwise, you would be looking at becoming an exercise physiologist, and concentrating on how to maximize your athletes' performance. That is, given your interest in exercise physiology, and nursing.
My background is that I have an undergraduate degree in Sports Medicine, with over 2000 hours of internship, and approximately 2 1/2 years of experience as an assistant athletic trainer at the collegiate level. I changed careers to something else, simply because the pay and benefits just simply weren't there at the time. Ultimately, that path let me into nursing.