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KU medical student chosen for NFL’s program for aspiring sports medicine doctors

Elizabeth Holmes, a rising fourth-year medical student, will work with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Exterior view of Murphy administration building in spring, with a flowering tree and flags in the foreground. The words University of Kansas appear near the roofline of the building.
KU School of Medicine is one of 21 medical schools across the nation participating in the NFL’s program, now in its third year.

When the Super Bowl champions report for training camp this year, University of Kansas fans will have an extra reason to cheer. Elizabeth Holmes, a rising fourth-year medical student at KU, will be a member of the team — the medical team, that is.

The National Football League, together with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), today announced the roster of medical students who will participate in the third year of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.

Students from 21 medical schools have been matched with NFL clubs across the league for one-month clinical rotations focused on primary care sports medicine, orthopedic surgery or both. The rotations provide students with the opportunity to learn from and work directly with club medical staff as they deliver care to players across the league. Student clinical rotations will begin as training camps open for the 2024 NFL season next month.

“I have dreamed of being a doctor since I was five years old, and I have been an avid athlete for most of my life,” said Holmes, who was chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs. “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.”

Sports medicine is a natural fit for Holmes, who swam, played soccer and softball and especially loved being a basketball player. Now she must work sports into a demanding academic schedule, but she still runs, lifts weights and plays pickleball.

“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,” she said. “I am excited for all the learning opportunities to come with this experience.”

Portrait of Elizabeth Holmes
A lifelong athlete, KU
medical student Elizabeth
Holmes is excited to
begin her career in
sports medicine.

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 and 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, they 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.

Launched in 2022, the league-wide program 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 staffs.

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.

“The NFL and clubs across the league are excited to welcome this year’s class of medical students and offer them the unique opportunity to complete clinical rotations with NFL club medical staffs,” said Allen Sills, M.D., NFL Chief Medical Officer. “We have an impressive group of participants joining us from a growing roster of medical schools this season as we continue our efforts to bring interested diverse and underrepresented medical students into the sports medicine professional pipeline.”

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