July 14, 2024

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NFL Announces 2024 Class of “Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative”

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During their one-month rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of NFL players, working directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians, athletic trainers, dietitians, mental health clinicians, strength & conditioning coaches, equipment managers, and others to gain medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine. Students will also become familiar with return-to-play protocols and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players. 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.

Since expanding the initiative league-wide last season, the NFL has been working to include additional disciplines and roles from the its player care “Team Behind the Team” in the program, including physician assistants, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists and behavioral health clinicians. The NFL, NFLPS and PFATS are also partnering with clubs to help expose high school students to the field of sports medicine through community events.

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.

Students participating in the program this season shared their enthusiasm about the opportunity to work with NFL clubs and gain experience in the field of sports medicine:

“Words cannot express how thankful I am to participate in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. As a lifelong NFL fan and aspiring primary care sports medicine physician, it is a dream come true to learn from the multidisciplinary medical teams that provide unparalleled and innovative care to the nation’s top athletes. I look forward to expanding my clinical knowledge on and off the field, and I am excited to be a part of the NFL’s commitment to diversifying the field of medicine.” — Michael Baham, UC Irvine School of Medicine, Los Angeles Chargers

“I am super excited to work with a sports medicine team at an elite level and learn how various members work synergistically to ensure the highest possible standard of player wellness! I hope to engage with as many members of the team as possible and incorporate their experiences and practices into my own patient interactions, both athletes and non-athletes, in the future.” — Mohit Bandla, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Dallas Cowboys

“So excited to be a part of this amazing program; to learn from the field’s best and brightest is an incredible opportunity!” — Raimel Brooks, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles Rams

“This is a lifelong dream to be able to serve athletes on an elite level and help them reach their full potential! As an aspiring Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician, I am grateful to be placed with the New England Patriots. Having a high hamstring tendon tear as a former Ivy League hurdler, I have experienced first-hand what it is like to be sidelined by injury. The care that I received from my team allowed me to extend my career beyond what I thought was imaginable. Everyone from the athletic trainer to the team physician were integral to my success on the track. I am excited to be on the other side of the field, caring for athletes and getting them back into motion. Coming from an underserved but tight-knit community of Ypsilanti, Michigan, I understand that there is a disparity in the quality of care received in communities like mine. I know that participation in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline program will help me to become a sports medicine physician well equipped to help bridge that gap and provide me with the network necessary to become an elite team physician.” — Kyra Caldwell, Howard University College of Medicine, New England Patriots

“I am honored to be able to rotate with the New York Giants and learn from some of the best physicians in the field. This experience will enhance my clinical skills so that I can provide the best care to my future patients.” — Austin Carey, Morehouse School of Medicine, New York Giants

“I am beyond excited to learn from the entire multidisciplinary sports medicine team that comprises the holistic care of athletes. I cannot wait to spend a month immersing myself in what it is like to practice medicine with my feet in the grass! Thank you to the NFL, NFLPS, and PFATS, as well as the Texans organization for creating and sustaining this trailblazing opportunity for myself and future medical students.” — Amanda Davis, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, Houston Texans

“I am truly blessed to be part of the NFL Diversity Pipeline Initiative. This unique opportunity is possible thanks to your unwavering support. I am thrilled to be working with the Cincinnati Bengals and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. This experience will offer invaluable learning opportunities, and I look forward to creating great memories. Glory to God!” — Dave Delima, Morehouse School of Medicine, Cincinnati Bengals

“It is truly an honor and a blessing to be a part of such an amazing program. This has been a goal for me since it was first announced two years ago, as I was wrapping up my first year of medical school. I am very thankful to the NFL, the Tennessee Titans, and Meharry Medical College for the opportunity and their commitment to diversity. I can’t wait to soak up all the knowledge during this experience.” — Cara Ford, Meharry Medical College, Tennessee Titans

“I am extremely grateful to the NFL and Case Western Reserve University for this opportunity to join the Cleveland Browns Medical Team and learn from some of the best about delivering world-class medical care to keep athletes healthy. As an aspiring Orthopedic Surgeon, it has been my lifelong dream to become a team physician and I am eager for this opportunity to return to the sidelines and get a behind the scenes experience to continue making this dream come true. Being a Cleveland girl makes it even sweeter that I have been granted this opportunity to work with and learn from the team I’ve spent a lifetime of Sundays cheering on from the couch and the stands. I look forward to the mentorship I will receive, continued learning about injury management and rehabilitation to return athletes to their previous health, and the mentorship and encouragement I will be able to pay forward to those who look like me who will come after me.” — Rachel Gardenhire, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland Browns

“As a medical student passionate about orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, I am thrilled to participate in the NFL Diversity Program. This program not only allows me to contribute to the health and safety of athletes but also promotes diversity within the NFL healthcare network. I am eager to be part of this initiative and explore the field of sports medicine through the lens of professional athletics.” — LaMiah Hall, LSU Health New Orleans, New Orleans Saints

“Football is my favorite sport, and my previous experiences with it played a significant role in shaping my determination to overcome challenges encountered in medical school. I am eager for the chance to meet and learn from individuals whose passion enables NFL athletes to excel at the highest levels.” — Craishun Hart, Morehouse School of Medicine, Arizona Cardinals

“I have dreamed of being a doctor since I was five years old, and when I discovered an entire field dedicated to working with athletes of all levels, I knew that was going to be part of my career. Having the opportunity to work with the NFL, and such high-caliber athletes, this early in my education is an honor and a dream come true. I am excited for all the learning opportunities to come with this experience.” — Elizabeth Holmes, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City Chiefs

“I’m thankful for this opportunity to learn from the best in the business.” — Richard Ingram, Meharry Medical College, Green Bay Packers

“I’m incredibly excited to have been chosen for this program, looking forward to learning from the best of the best!” — Faith Kehinde, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh Steelers

“I’m incredibly grateful to the Las Vegas Raiders for the opportunity to participate in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative! As a first-generation Filipino American woman, I never thought I would see myself in the NFL. I recognize this unique opportunity to provide representation and to work with athletes at the highest level. I’m excited to learn from each elite multidisciplinary medical team member and gain valuable hands-on experience. I plan to take the skills I learn into my family medicine residency and help the everyday person accomplish their fitness goals. As I continue forward as a sports medicine physician, I hope that athletes, patients, and young aspiring physicians can see themselves in me and believe they can have a place at the highest level.” — Gemma Lagasca, Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, Las Vegas Raiders

“I am very excited about the opportunity to participate in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. This program will allow me to delve deeper into the intersection of medicine and sports, an area close to my heart as a former athlete. I’m eager to expand my knowledge of sports medicine, particularly at the professional level, where the standards of care and innovation are exceptionally high. Additionally, I’m looking forward to the chance to network and build relationships with esteemed professionals in the field. I am confident that this program will provide me with experiences and insights that will be invaluable in my future career in orthopaedics.” — Alexis LeMone, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Carolina Panthers

“I am thrilled beyond words as I anticipate starting my sports medicine rotation with the Miami Dolphins. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity. Having grown up in Miami, my lifelong engagement with sports naturally drew me to following all of Miami’s sports teams. From a young age I have been exposed to the medical field and have witnessed first-hand the profound impact healthcare professionals have on people’s lives ignited my passion, love, and curiosity for medicine. My enthusiasm for sports never fell far behind. I have always been fascinated by the collaborative efforts of athletic trainers, team physicians, therapists, strength coaches, nutritionists, and the entire support team who prepare athletes to perform their best. I have dreamed of being on the sidelines at training camps, actively helping the team in any way I can. As a Dolphins fan, I am not only excited to contribute and learn but this opportunity is truly a dream come true. I am eager to support the team and absorb as much knowledge as possible from everyone I encounter. GO FINS!” — Antonio Lopez, Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Miami Dolphins

“As someone who has been following this program since its start in 2022, I am incredibly excited to be a part of the 2024 class of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. This is both a unique and once in a lifetime opportunity to hopefully see a glimpse into what my future could hold as I pursue a career in sports medicine. I am looking forward to not only working with the team physicians and athletic trainers of the Buffalo Bills, but also being able to understand how every individual on the medical, training, and performance staffs work collaboratively to keep some of our nation’s best athletes safe and ready for play. I hope to expand my medical skillset and to gain insight and mentorship from those who have been able to pave their way into and thrive within the NFL.” — Moriah Martindale, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, Buffalo Bills

“I’m beyond excited to join the Detroit Lions this August as part of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. Returning to my hometown and contributing to such a meaningful program is incredibly special to me. This initiative will equip me with the essential tools and skills to excel as a physician in my future practice. I am truly inspired by the NFL’s commitment to diversity, which is a significant step towards making medicine more inclusive and representative of various backgrounds.” — Marquisha Myles, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Detroit Lions

“As a proud Minnesotan, I’m beyond excited to join the Minnesota Vikings medical team this August! This is a dream come true, blending my love for sports with my passion for medicine. I can’t wait to support the team I grew up cheering for and gain amazing experiences in the world of sports medicine!” — Jessica Nelson, Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Minnesota Vikings

“I am thrilled to participate in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, and I hope this experience will broaden my skills and understanding of sports medicine.” — Eden Obomeghie, Morehouse School of Medicine, Indianapolis Colts

“I’m elated to be part of the NFL student pipeline initiative. Being a big sports fan in both soccer and football, I’m very happy to learn and experience the realities of how these highly trained and talented professionals do their craft on the field and the help provided to them from the medical standpoint as well. I’m looking forward to a very rewarding and worthwhile experience with the sports and health care team!” — Allen Opoku, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Baltimore Ravens

“Even as a child, the NFL stood out to me as an organization that strives for excellence. By investing not only in future sports physicians but also in minorities, the NFL is conveying that they also see excellence in us. I cannot think of a better opportunity to learn from some of the best physicians in the world working at the highest level. It is also invaluable to learn how an organization operates, from the executives to the training staff, the equipment managers, to the medical staff. Ultimately, this program will allow me to meet mentors that I hope to one day call peers, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.” — David Orlando, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get my foot in the door of the realm of Sports Medicine. Ever since I first heard of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative during my first year of medical school, I have made it one of my goals to be in a position to participate. Now that the opportunity is here, it feels almost surreal. The icing on the cake is that my late grandfather, Frank Kindle, was a dedicated Washington Commanders fan. I can easily see him smiling proudly, knowing that I am going to be working with his favorite football team. I am coming into this month-long rotation as an open book. I hope to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I look forward to learning about every aspect of keeping these athletes healthy and getting them back onto the field when they are injured. I hope to make lasting connections and am excited about impact this opportunity will have on my career aspirations.” — Caleb Parrish, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington Commanders

“I am excited to learn from some of the foremost leaders in sports medicine. As a future family medicine physician, I hope to incorporate the lessons I learn from this experience into my daily practice and to share this knowledge with patients across the full spectrum of musculoskeletal primary care.” — Joel Sacris, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, New York Jets

“I am so excited to get a glimpse into the expansive world of sports medicine! As a student who aspires to become an orthopedic surgeon, I do not think that there is a better way to understand what goes into the holistic care of the athlete than doing so at the highest level, and I am grateful to be able to do so through this program. This is a unique experience that will undoubtedly inform my nascent understanding of orthopedic surgery, and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I respect the NFL tremendously for creating this initiative, and I am proud to be a participant who will one day be able to show those who come after me what is possible, especially for Black women as we currently comprise only 0.6% of all orthopedic surgeons.” — Aisha Suhaiba, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago Bears

“I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to participate in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. I am eager to learn from and work alongside top sports medicine professionals. The chance to merge my passion for sports with my commitment to medicine, gain invaluable insights into sports medicine, and contribute to the health and performance of professional athletes is truly thrilling.” — Sydney Woods, Meharry Medical College, Jacksonville Jaguars

“Participating in the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative will be a transformative experience. I am extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity to learn from the team physicians, athletic trainers, and interdisciplinary sports medicine staff on the San Francisco 49ers. From playing collegiate and professional soccer, I know first-hand how impactful these individuals are on the success of a team. The NFL’s commitment to increasing diversity in sports medicine is important to me, as I aspire to become a team physician and contribute towards the increased representation of women on the sidelines in the NFL and other sports.” — Michelle Xiao, Stanford University School of Medicine, San Francisco 49ers

“My dream is to become a sports medicine physician, and I’m thrilled to make the most of this program as it gives me the opportunity to learn from the best, develop lasting relationships, and take the first step in turning my dream into a reality.” — Jerry Yue, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta Falcons

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