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If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs!

Dhirubhai Ambani

The first thing to realise is that, irrespective of the industry in which you work, the fundamental responsibility for your career lies with you. You are in charge. Of course you can let fate play its part, and without certain qualifications and experience you may find obstacles in your path. All of this considered though, it will be your determination and persistence that creates your career opportunities. It is important to think big about where you would like to be and to have the dream, but within this dream you need both a plan (which can change over time) and the stepping stones to achieve it.

In this chapter we explore the context in which careers in sport and exercise medicine (SEM), sports therapy and physiotherapy operate. This landscape has changed greatly in the past decade and is set to evolve even further in the next. The main driver has been the globalisation of medicine to support sport which has mirrored the globalisation of sport.

Furthermore we want to focus readers’ attention, in particular that of future sports clinicians, on the key behaviours that are important to both potential employers and other people who will help with career progression.

We then reflect on some career advice provided by five members of the SEM community: two international sports physiotherapists; a young SEM doctor; one of the most controversial characters in SEM; and finally, a leading figure in injury prevention. All of their stories and advice provide invaluable real life guidance and inspiration.


Sport and exercise medicine has become an all-encompassing term for many subdisciplines and types of practitioners. Sports medicine is a multidisciplinary way of thinking based around three core themes or approaches:

  1. Work as a team.

  2. Communicate internationally.

  3. Reach the top with your patients or athletes, where you seek to achieve the maximum functional recovery possible.

Across the world, SEM has developed at different rates and with different styles of leadership and personality. Now, however, the effect of globalisation is felt more strongly through the diaspora of the playing talent in sport and increased global travel to compete in both professional and amateur events, such as marathons and triathlons. Following this pattern, clinicians have begun to move internationally to practise and so cross-pollination is taking place. There has never been a better time for an international career in SEM.

The internationalisation of the discipline is not constrained to the travels of individual athletes. In fact, in the past decade international governing bodies such as FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) have created international networks of clinics and scientific research centres or hubs ...

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