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NFL Expands Initiative to Increase Diversity in Sports Medicine

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On Monday, the NFL, the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) jointly announced the expansion of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.

The program, which began last fall, seeks to increase and diversify the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine, with the goal of ultimately diversifying the medical staff of NFL clubs.

After a successful inaugural year, the program has been expanded league-wide.

“Working toward diverse representation across all roles in our league continues to be a top priority, and this program helps us make a tangible impact to grow and bolster a pipeline of diverse sports medicine professionals,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “We know that diversity makes us stronger at every level, and we look forward to welcoming the 2023 class to our player care teams at clubs across the league.”

Last year’s class featured 14 students from four HBCU medical schools, including Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Meharry Medical College. Each student completed a clinical rotation with NFL club medical staff.

The 2023 program will expand to match diverse students from 19 medical schools with NFL teams.

While most of the emphasis on diversity in the league has focused on coaches and executives, the sports medical field has historically lacked diversity as well.

But, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, those numbers rose during the last academic year.

The overall number of applicants has returned to pre-pandemic levels and the diversity numbers are just as encouraging.

Black matriculants are up 9%, Black students made up 10% of matriculants in 2022-23, an increase from 9.5% in 2020-21 and first-year Black men increase by 5%.

Hispanic/Latino/Spanish original matriculants increased by 4% and individuals from this group accounted for 12% of total matriculants.

The NFL, NFLPS and PFATS are now strengthening their commitment to diversity in the field by expanding the initiative.

“The NFLPS is honored to be a part of this critically important program. We are proud to expand this program to reach more diverse medical students across the nation. I know firsthand that the students who rotated with the 49ers last season were exceptional — and I learned so much from them. We look forward to another successful season,” said Dr. Timothy McAdams, NFLPS President and Head Team Physician for the San Francisco 49ers.

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