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NFL Announces Inaugural Class of Students Participating in ‘Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative’

NFL Announces Inaugural Class of Students Participating in ‘Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative’

Medical students from the four HBCU medical schools to complete clinical rotations with NFL club medical staffs this season

Program aims to diversify the pipeline in sports medicine, within NFL club medical staffs

The NFL, together with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS), announced the roster of medical students who will participate in the inaugural season of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, which aims to increase and diversify the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine and, over time, help to diversify NFL club medical staff.

The 14 students selected by their medical schools to participate in the program will complete clinical rotations with NFL club medical staffs this fall.

Participating students hail from the country’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) medical schools – Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Meharry Medical College. Their clinical rotations will focus on primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery. They will each be embedded within the medical staff of one of eight NFL clubs: the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders.

“I am thrilled to welcome these outstanding medical students to our clubs this fall,” said NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills. “This program will be an opportunity not only for these students to learn from NFL club medical staff, but also to develop mentoring relationships that will help them throughout their careers. As we embark on the first season of this initiative, I am hopeful that our efforts to diversify the pipeline of students interested in sports medicine will have long-lasting positive effects on the medical care athletes receive well beyond NFL players.”

The students selected to participate in the program’s inaugural season include:

NameMedical SchoolNFL Club
Kadarius BurgessCharles R. Drew University of Medicine and ScienceLos Angeles Rams
Regan BurgessHoward University College of MedicineCincinnati Bengals
Alexandra Cancio-BelloHoward University College of MedicineNew York Giants
Omolayo DadaMorehouse School of MedicineSan Francisco 49ers
Yomiyou GeletaMeharry Medical CollegeTennessee Titans
Paolo GilleranMorehouse School of MedicineAtlanta Falcons
Eddie GonteeMorehouse School of MedicineAtlanta Falcons
Kelsey HendersonMeharry Medical CollegeTennessee Titans
Jason MooreHoward University College of MedicineLos Angeles Chargers
Justin MooreHoward University College of MedicineWashington Commanders
Andrew NaklaMeharry Medical CollegeSan Francisco 49ers
Felipe OcampoCharles R. Drew University of Medicine and ScienceLos Angeles Rams
Jessica SmithHoward University College of MedicineWashington Commanders
Kayla ThomasHoward University College of MedicineNew York Giants

The students’ one-month clinical rotations will begin as the 2022 NFL season kicks off in September. During their rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of NFL players. Students will work directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians and athletic trainers to gain basic medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine. Additionally, students will become familiar with return-to-play guidelines and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players. Students may attend home games and be present on the sideline for observation. By the end of the rotation, students will understand the basic elements of all facets of care provided to NFL players from an orthopedic, primary care sports medicine and athletic training perspective.   

“We are delighted to be welcoming the first class and hosting two of the medical students with our team, the 49ers,” said NFLPS President and San Francisco 49ers head team physician Dr. Timothy McAdams. “Being able to be a part of this program to bring more diversity into sports medicine is an honor and privilege.”

“As a young person who was afforded the opportunity to spend time with an NFL club and be exposed to the medical staffs and all they do, I was inspired to pursue a career in athletic training,” said Reggie Scott, PFATS President and Los Angeles Rams Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance. “Today, I am thrilled to be able to give back to the medical students and host two of them this fall as well as have them learn from my PFATS colleagues.”

In 2023, the program will seek to expand to recruit students from additional academic institutions and medical disciplines and place those students with medical staffs at additional NFL clubs.

These efforts are part of the league’s broader commitment to ensuring that staff and leaders in the league office and at NFL clubs reflect the racial and gender makeup of America. Among NFL club medical staffs, the initiative builds on existing efforts to recruit and hire diverse medical staff when positions become available across all roles, and to increase diversity across NFL medical committees.

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“I am grateful and excited to be participating in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Elective. This is an amazing opportunity which perfectly aligns with my career goals in orthopedic surgery. I am excited to learn from world class athletes and the experts who work together to care for them on and off the field. I think this experience will help inspire more youth of color who are under-represented in careers like medicine and further sports medicine, pursue such careers by seeing people who look like them achieve these goals.” – Kadarius Burgess, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

“This opportunity to participate in orthopedics on a national stage like the NFL is one I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. I am so grateful to have the ability to learn from prominent orthopedic surgeons in the field dealing with sports related injuries, and especially look forward to the impact it will have on my career moving forward.” – Regan Burgess, Howard University College of Medicine

“Words cannot express how grateful I am to participate in The NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. This program is an unparalleled opportunity that will significantly enhance my career in orthopedics. As the first physician in my family, the support from this initiative to pursue my dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon is extremely meaningful and is an experience I will always be grateful for.” – Alexandra Cancio-Bello, Howard University College of Medicine

“As an athlete and someone who truly loves sports, I was elated to have the opportunity to work alongside premiere athletes and skilled physicians. This initiative allows me to apply my clinical skills and knowledge at the highest level in sports medicine. I hope to learn more about the field of sports medicine and how best to care for athletes, keeping them healthy and getting them back to what they love doing the most.” – Omolayo Dada, Morehouse School of Medicine

“I am looking forward to participating in this program because it will be a great opportunity to learn from physicians, trainers, and athletes at the highest level in an immersive environment and experience what the field of sports medicine has to offer.” – Yomiyou Geleta, Meharry Medical College

“I wanted to participate in the NFL pipeline initiative to gain insight and grow my knowledge on the role of a Sports Medicine physician on an NFL team.” – Paolo Gilleran, Morehouse School of Medicine

“I never anticipated that pursuit of a career in Orthopedic Surgery would grant me the opportunity to rotate with my beloved hometown NFL club, the Atlanta Falcons. I look forward to learning the return-to-play guidelines and on the field treatment considerations for NFL players. Most importantly, I plan to use the knowledge and connections that I will gain from this experience to one day help me to become a team Orthopedic Surgeon.” – Eddie Gontee, Morehouse School of Medicine

“The NFL Sports Medicine elective affords me the full experience from patient satisfaction to hands-on remedy that comprises so much of orthopedics under the bright lights of professional football.” – Kelsey Henderson, Meharry Medical College

“I am thankful and excited about this great experience to interact with and learn from professionals in the sports medicine field!” – Jason Moore, Howard University College of Medicine

“I am extremely excited about this once in a lifetime opportunity to learn and enjoy being a part of a professional sports medical team! Can’t wait!” – Justin Moore, Howard University College of Medicine

“As an aspiring orthopedic surgeon, the NFL internship will be a once in a lifetime opportunity where I will learn from an experienced medical team in a unique setting. I am excited to develop new relationships and contribute to providing athlete-centered care.” – Andrew Nakla, Meharry Medical College

“My biggest hope through this experience is to inspire youth, especially those from under-represented backgrounds to pursue professions like medicine where they can do incredible things such as sports medicine with the NFL. Growing up, I never thought I could become a doctor. I didn’t know any doctors, let alone how to become one. I would have never thought I would be in the position I am today getting this opportunity to spend some time working alongside the LA Rams medical team.” – Felipe Ocampo, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

“It is a great honor to be selected to represent Howard in the inaugural NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. As a Black woman pursuing a career in orthopedic surgery, I am beyond grateful for this life-changing opportunity. I appreciate the NFL’s commitment to eliminating the barriers that minorities interested in sports medicine may face. I look forward to building upon my previous athletic training experience and gaining as much knowledge and patient care exposure as possible. This is truly a dream come true!” – Jessica Smith, Howard University College of Medicine

“I look forward to such a unique opportunity to train under physicians who are tasked with keeping high-performing NFL athletes healthy. Whether I’m treating injuries on or off the sidelines; there’s no doubt, I’ll be rooting for the home team!” – Kayla Thomas, Howard University College of Medicine

Source: NFL


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