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Sports Medicine Fellowship: Overview

Dr. Fields with patientA key experience for the primary care sports medicine fellow at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital is becoming a team physician for a local college and a high school. By assuming the primary role as team physician, the fellow gains extensive experience assisting on the sidelines and evaluating acute injuries while following multiple sports. During the course of the fellowship, the fellow is exposed to a minimum of 2,000 encounters that involve sports injuries. This is accomplished by training the fellow in a variety of settings and under the supervision of faculty who have extensive experience in sports medicine.

The fellowship is a fully accredited program affiliated with Cone Health Family Medicine Residency, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Greensboro Area Health Education Center. We accept two fellows per year through the NMRP Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Match. We have trained additional fellows when needed by area colleges or by the US military.

Karl B. Fields, MD, CAQ SM is the Director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship, as well as being active nationally and internationally in sports medicine with the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. He is a past president of the AMSSM.

Ryan Draper, MD, CAQ SM is associate director of the fellowship and serves as a team physician with Guilford College. He has covered all major sports and served as associate medical director for the US Figure skating championships.

Sara Neal, MD,CAQ SM  is a Sports Medicine physician who acts as our core faculty with the Family Medicine Residency. She also is a certified ring physician and the physician member of the NC boxing advisory board. 

Additional faculty includes: Jim Kramer, MD, CAQ SM and Dominick McKinley, MD, CAQ SM who are Sports Medicine Fellowship-trained family physicians who are faculty supervisors in the orthopedic offices. Dr. Eldaliz Fernandez supervises the student health experience.

Seven orthopedists, with active sports medicine practices and subspecialty orthopedists, Physiatrists and Radiologists all contribute to teaching the fellows.

Primary care Sports medicine physicians within the community including Dr. Spencer Copland, Dr. Kenneth Barnes, Dr. Rebecca Bassett, Dr. Adam Kendal and Dr. Mike Hilts are adjunct faculty who help with residency and fellowship teaching as well as coverage of local events.

In order to assure continuity, each fellow works primarily with one orthopedic office and is the team physician for one college and one high school.

  • Guilford College is an NCAA Division III school with 3,000 students and multiple sports coverage opportunities. The Guilford College fellow works with Murphy and Wainer Orthopedics and is the team physician for Southern Guilford High School.
  •  North Carolina A&T State University is a Division I school with approximately 10,000 students. The A&T fellow works with Guilford Orthopedics and is the team physician for Randleman High School.   

The sports medicine fellow's education occurs through a variety of clinical settings, including primary care sports medicine clinics, orthopedic clinics, student health sports medicine clinics, training room experiences, physical therapy, radiology, rheumatology, podiatry, hand surgery, primary care and event coverage. Additional coverage includes North Carolina Marathon and other mass events, such as cross country invitational and soccer tournaments. Fellows may also opt to work with former fellows to provide periodic coverage of arena football, minor league professional baseball and boxing.

Additional key components of the curriculum are proficiency in procedures. These include the preparation of orthotics, joint injections, casting, splinting and musculoskeletal ultrasound.  Elective educational experiences are available in exercise physiology, sports psychology and sports nutrition, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Faculty at the Family Medicine Center also assists fellows with scholarly projects, including research, case reports and complex treatment issues with athletes.

During the course of the year, we expect each fellow to complete some form of scholarly activity with the intent of publishing. This may be a research project, a review article, or a case report. The publication record of the program has been consistent, and each fellow has gained skills in writing, critical literature analysis and basic research. Fellows frequently present at local conferences often working with fellows and faculty from other North Carolina programs. All fellows are expected to submit a case for presentation to the annual AMSSM meeting. Our fellows attend at least three sports medicine conferences during the year, including the Advanced Team Physician Course, the UNC Ultrasound Conference and the AMSSM annual meeting.

Teaching is also an important component of the fellowship. Fellows present lectures to medical students and residents, precept residents in primary care clinics, and rotate with residents and medical students at the orthopedic office and UNCG sports medicine clinic. One half-day per week is dedicated to sports medicine didactic teaching with Drs. Draper, Neal and Fields on sports medicine topics, cases and journal articles.   

The experience of the Sports Medicine Fellowship helps the fellow achieve the following goals:

*A balanced experience, including clinical care in primary care sports medicine, orthopedics and preventive medicine.

*Academic skills that enable the fellow to critically review articles, write effectively for publication and understand the basics of sports medicine research.  

*Maintenance of family practice skills while developing skills as a team physician at the collegiate and high school level.