Charles R. Drew, University of Medicine and Science students, Cadarius Burgess and Felipe Ocampo talk about rotation experiences with the Rams as part of the NFL Sports Medicine Diversity Pipeline Initiative
The timing is perfect for Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science students Cadarius Burgess and Felipe Ocampo.
Entering their fourth year, the NFL launched the Diversity Initiative in the Sports Medicine Pipeline. Both applied for the program, and eventually made it to the Rams, where they each completed separate four-week shifts with the medical and athletic training staff in Los Angeles earlier this fall.
“It’s something we can’t really lose if it presents itself,” Ocampo said. “That’s one of the reasons I applied, and I don’t know if I’ll ever gain experience like this.”
Campo and Borges took a hands-on look at what it means to treat professional athletes and regular patients, their schedules consisting of 3-4 days of working in the clinic, followed by going to the operating room on Fridays with Dr. Christos Fotopoulos, one of the doctors. Ramez team doctors.
“It was a combination of like going to the clinic, seeing patients in the real world, and then the clinic at the Ramez facility as well,” Burgess said. “So it was a good mix of things, seeing how different it is in sponsorships from like the NFL and how they treat people, and players outside of the NFL as well. So it was good.”
It wasn’t just about the doctors they got to know. The Rams made sure that both students got to know the way other sports medicine staff work – thus not only the roles of the team doctors, but also the sports psychologist, physical therapist, sports coach, and dietitian as well. Burgess and Ocampo were able to interview many people and learn about their roles and how they interact not only with the players, but also with the team’s doctors, as well as their career paths.
Each of them also had to go to a Rams game to observe how the Rams’ athletic and medical coaching staff dealt with the players in that environment in real time—for Burgess, that was the hawks’ game; For Ocampo, a cowboy game.
“I realized how, not only with the Games, but also, in terms of this experience, the closing of the athletic coaches, and kind of like a first line, in terms of looking after the players,” Ocampo said. “So they’re like the first ones to see the players. Like Reggie, they tell him they’re in pain first, they have knee pain, and then Reggie and the players will go together and see and talk to the team doctors. So I realized the team doctors aren’t like the first team doctors — I mean, I think that It really depends, but for the most part, the athletic trainers are the first line. That’s something I didn’t know before. I thought maybe the team doctors were always the ones to rush in and see what’s going on with the players. But that’s not always the case.”
For Burgess, it was his first time going to an NFL game, which was “pretty cool.” He was also surprised by the pace of that process as he witnessed it.
“It was also very amazing, realizing just how fast it tempted,” Burgess said. “Like, watching it on TV, one thing you didn’t realize was how long things take. You might think it takes longer, but being in the field and seeing it actually work, everything is moving really fast. And it kind of makes sense, because you’re trying to make sure that those Players are ready and able to stay in the game, get ready for something that is the basis of their job, so it’s great to see that.”
Both Burgess and Campo appreciate the value of outreach created by the program and look forward to leveraging it to help advance their own aspirations. They also appreciated what this representation means for their jobs.
“Guidance is important,” Campo said. “I think when people see someone working with athletes in the NFL, for them, it’s a desire to pursue careers like that. I think not just from my experience, but being able to show that to people, especially those who have been well represented. Minus in this area, they can do that and do these kinds of wonderful things, which is a big reason why this software is really great.”
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