Adam Munoz is learning what it takes to be a sports medicine physician for professional athletes.
Throughout August, the medical student from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta joined Forté physicians on the sidelines of the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp. While most of his time was spent observing and caring for the players, Munoz also got to know some of the athletes on a personal level.
“The players are hilarious,” says Munoz. “They’re very inviting. They were interested in why I was here, and they were supportive, too.”
A temporary addition to the sidelines, Munoz was one of 32 students from 19 medical schools selected to participate in the 2023 NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.
The program places students with an NFL team for a one-month clinical rotation. Its overall aim is to increase and diversify the pipeline of those interested in sports medicine careers and, over time, help diversify NFL club medical staff.
“There was an interview process, and Adam was embedded with us for training camp,” says Dr. Peter Maiers, a sports medicine specialist at Forté and the head team physician for the Colts. “He received broad exposure to all aspects of healthcare and what’s provided to NFL players.”
“It was a great opportunity,” adds Munoz. “We had the chance to get onto the field, see what it’s like to be a sports medicine doc working with NFL teams and experience some behind-the-scenes action.”
On the Sidelines and in the Clinic with Forté Physicians
For nearly 40 years, Forté physicians have served on the Indianapolis Colts’ sports medicine roster, helping the team’s injured athletes get back to play quickly and safely.
Under the supervision of Forté physicians and the team’s athletic trainers, Munoz gained a better understanding of return-to-play guidelines and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players. He also had access to the clinical side of sports medicine.
“It was an incredible experience,” says Munoz. “In addition to working with the players, I got to see what it’s like to help some of Forté’s patients who aren’t professional athletes and learn how the physicians translate what they do on the field to what they do in the clinic.”
An Added Focus on Mental Health
Initially a film and video major before deciding to pursue medicine, Munoz has developed an interest in sports psychiatry, a medical specialty that focuses on the mental health of athletes. When the Colts’ team physicians at Forté learned of his career focus, they helped ensure he made the most of his unique opportunity.
“They paired me up with some of the sports psychiatrists, so I got to do sports medicine from the physical aspect but also the mental aspect,” says Munoz.
In recent years, the NFL has increased its focus on mental health. Each team has staff trained in spotting, treating and preventing mental health disorders and teaching athletes techniques to help enhance their performance.
“The Colts organization has placed an emphasis on having mental health resources available for their players who are not only dealing with an injury but also just dealing with the stress of being a young man in a high-stress situation,” says Maiers. “The Colts have been very supportive of that for their athletes and the organization as a whole.”
“It can be devastating psychologically to have an injury,” adds Munoz. “Having a good mental outlook can help progress your recovery, and I think it helps speed up the physical process.”
Following his clinical rotation with the Colts, Munoz headed back to medical school in Atlanta where he’s on track to graduate in May 2024. As he embarks on his own career, he’ll be taking the memories and lessons of this experience with him.
“Working with the Forté physicians was wonderful,” says Munoz. “They asked me questions and made sure my knowledge was up to date. They were also super supportive and got me involved as much as possible.”
“It was an honor to help mentor him and hopefully provide some guidance as to what path he may choose for his career,” says Maiers.
Want to Learn More?
Forté has a section of its website dedicated to helping you learn more about its sports medicine and orthopedics team, which is nationally known for the care it provides professional, collegiate and high school athletes. Visit the sports medicine page to read about team specializations, treatment methods and more.
For more information about the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, visit NFL.com.