The NFL, together with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS), today 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.

“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,” says Eddie Gontee, a student at the Morehouse School of Medicine. “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.”

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.

“As an athlete and someone who truly loves sports, I was elated to have the opportunity to work alongside premiere athletes and skilled physicians,” says Omolaya Dada, a student at the Morehouse School of Medicine. “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.”