How to Become a Sports Medicine Nurse

Sports medicine involves medical care for injured athletes and providing assistance to enhance their physical performance. Sports medicine nurses may assist in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries, the analysis of the performance of healthy athletes, or give physical exams to determine if someone is fit to play. Sports medicine nurses may work with professional athletes, amateur athletes, or school kids playing sports. In this article, we are going to give you some information on how to become a sports medicine nurse.

Get the Right Education

Sports medicine is a subset of orthopedic medicine. However, there isn’t a nursing program specific to sports medicine. A bachelor’s degree is a minimum. If you’re already an RN but not a BSN, you should consider enrolling with Rutgers University Online. The RN to BSN program at Rutgers University awards you the BSN degree that is becoming mandatory for many RN positions and can provide the expertise you need to be considered for the field.

Many sports medicine nurses are nurse practitioners. This gives them the necessary expertise to diagnose musculoskeletal injuries and other conditions. However, the field is open to nurses with advanced practice certifications or experience in orthopedics.

Consider Your Work Setting

Sports medicine nurses have a wide variety of job opportunities. You could work for a fitness center as a source of medical advice for members, whether assessing injuries or giving recommendations on diet and exercise. You could work for a company wellness program or an HMO. Professional sports teams regularly hire sports medicine nurses as do mid-level employers like college sports programs. You may be able to find a job working for a school, but this may require taking classes related to pediatric patients and dealing with children.

If you have expertise in sports medicine, you could work at a hospital or rehabilitation facility with athletes, and you could take on conventional patients for additional pay. For example, those who have expertise in sports medicine could work in cardiac rehab with patients of all ages and physical states. You’d be doing similar tasks such as teaching someone the right way to exercise, supervising exercise levels, and monitoring their health.

The main issue for sports medicine nurses is where you want to work. If you’re supporting a sports team, you’re probably required to travel for games. If you’re working at a fitness center, you know your hours and clientele, but it may not pay as much as working full-time in a hospital. Or, you could simply work in an orthopedic clinic. And you’ll always be welcomed as a volunteer on the sidelines during community sporting activities like marathons.

Consider Certifications

If you want to get into sports medicine nursing, you may want to earn additional certifications such as the Orthopedic Nursing Certification from the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board. Additional coursework and certifications in athletic training, kinesiology, exercise physiology or rehabilitation would allow you to stand out from the crowded field of candidates. For example, you could become a registered athletic trainer. Conversely, experience working with orthopedic physicians for several years may be considered good enough for many potential employers.


Whether you want to help injured athletes return to the field or treat injured high schoolers on the sideline to prevent problems long term, sports medicine is a valuable specialty for nurses. Your skill set opens up a number of opportunities.