In sports medicine, one of the crucial members of the medical team is the sports medicine nurse. He/ she has an important and diverse role during sport events because he/ she is expected to render an around-the-clock nursing care as much as possible and at competition venues, his/ her role will involve acting either as part of the Field of Play team or as part of a team in the athlete medical room. Experience in Pre-Hospital care is therefore vital for these roles. There are additional opportunities to provide care to the crowds as part of the First Aid team.
Nurses have a multi-factorial role and will be involved with all aspects of care of the athletes and officials. An ability to act in a multi-disciplinary environment and effective communications skills are therefore absolutely vital. An ability to be adaptable and to cope under pressure is also required for these posts. The nursing role will involve a spectrum of duties ranging from triage of patients through to treatments of injuries. It will involve interaction with elite athletes, officials, the general public and physicians from many allied specialties such as General Practice, Emergency Medicine and the Paramedic teams.
The sports medicine nurses are usually nurse volunteers from clinical hospitals. It is essential that these volunteers have at least 18 months post registration experience and hold current nurse license. They must be holders of up-to-date ILS certificate, or at the very least first aid certification, and have experience in emergency skills (including trauma management) and wound and injury management. Experience of limb immobilization using plaster techniques is desirable, as is experience acting within an Emergency Department, as a Pre-Hospital care Practitioner or Immediate Care Practitioner. Minor injury and minor illness training is desirable but not essential. Knowledge and experience of dealing with elite athletes is also desirable but not necessary as well.
Ideally sports medicine nurses should be orthopedic nurses. They receive specialized education and training to care for patients with diseases and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. These nurses play an important role in providing care to patients who have bone fractures, degenerative diseases, joint replacement surgery or other conditions that affect the bones and muscles. They are highly trained in casting, external fixation care, neurovascular status monitoring, traction and continuous motion therapy. With their specialized education and skills, they can assess patients, administer treatments, provide procedures as well as administer medications. They also utilize their knowledge and skills to ensure patients remain as comfortable as possible. Orthopedic nurses can teach patients new methods for performing personal tasks and provide them with information regarding assistance programs, support groups and other resources they may require.
To become a certified orthopedic nurse, one must first complete a registered nursing program at an accredited school and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Once obtaining a RN license, he/ she can then take the orthopedic certification exam given by the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board. Passing this exam and receiving certification will provide her with the credentials that indicate his/ her expertise in this specialized field.