For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Rams are teaming up with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) to provide a medical student with the opportunity to complete a clinical rotation with the team's medical staff. Now in its second year, the initiative aims to increase and diversify the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine to help make a positive impact in the medical field and, over time, help to diversify NFL club medical staff.
As part of the program, medical students interested in primary care sports medicine and orthopedic surgery have been selected to complete one-month clinical rotations with NFL clubs, presenting a unique opportunity to learn from and work directly with club medical staff as they deliver world-class care to players across the league. Last year's inaugural class was comprised of 14 students from the four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) medical schools who completed rotations across eight NFL clubs. The 2023 program has expanded to match diverse students from 19 medical schools with NFL clubs across the league.
This season, the Rams will provide Nonye Ikeanyi from Charles R. Drew University with a one-month clinical rotation working with the team's Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance Reggie Scott and his staff.
"It is so rare to get the opportunity to work with elite level athletes. Having the chance to work with the care team that keeps the athletes healthy is even more special. The NFL is changing what I thought was possible for black women in orthopedics and I am beyond grateful to be a part of this initiative," said Ikeanyi. "I have so much respect for the discipline and dedication that it takes to reach the professional level. I hope to apply what I learn from the physicians, trainers, nutritionists, and all the other staff members to my community practice during residency and beyond. As an aspiring pediatric orthopedic surgeon, I am looking forward to working with student athletes and doing all I can to keep them injury-free while they play the sport they love!"
Diverse medical students in-training, including those training to become sports medicine-focused physicians, are historically underrepresented. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, enrollment of diverse students is increasing. During the 2022-23 academic year, "the number of Black or African American matriculants increased by 9%," and "matriculants who are Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin increased by 4%," while "American Indian or Alaska Native matriculants declined by 9%." The NFL's Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative has expanded to provide more students with an interest in sports medicine exposure and opportunities in the field.
The Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative is part of the league's broader commitment to ensure 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.