NFL Announces “Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative”

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
NFL Announces “Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative”
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The NFL has announced the inaugural class of HBCU students participating in its Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.

The pipeline aims to increase and diversify the students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine and, over time, help diversify NFL club’s medical staff.

Fourteen students from HBCUs, selected by their medical schools to participate in the program, will complete clinical rotations with NFL club medical staffs this upcoming season.


The four HBCU medical schools participating in the Diversity in Sports Medicine Initiative are Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Meharry Medical College. 

The 14 students will join the medical staffs of one of the following eight NFL teams; Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Commanders.

HBCU med students partnering with NFL

Their clinical rotations will focus on primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery. Students will work directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians and athletic trainers to gain basic medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine.

Additionally, students in the Diversity in Sports Medicine Initiative will become familiar with return-to-play guidelines and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players.

“I am thrilled to welcome these outstanding medical students to our clubs this fall,” said NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills. “This program will be an opportunity not only for these students to learn from NFL club medical staff, but also to develop mentoring relationships that will help them throughout their careers. As we embark on the first season of this initiative, I am hopeful that our efforts to diversify the pipeline of students interested in sports medicine will have long-lasting positive effects on the medical care athletes receive well beyond NFL players.”

The students participating in the Diversity in Sports Medicine initiative are:

  • Kadarius Burgess (Charles R. Drew), Los Angeles Rams
  • Regan Burgess (Howard), Cincinnati Bengals
  • Alexandra Cancio-Bello (Howard), New York Giants
  • Omolayo Dada (Morehouse), San Francisco 49ers
  • Yomiyou Geleta (Meharry), Tennessee Titans
  • Paolo Gilleran (Morehouse), Atlanta Falcons
  • Eddie Gontee (Morehouse), Atlanta Falcons
  • Kelsey Henderson (Meharry), Tennessee Titans
  • Jason Moore (Howard), Los Angeles Chargers
  • Justin Moore (Howard), Washington Commanders
  • Andrew Nakla (Meharry), San Francisco 49ers
  • Felipe Ocampo (Charles R. Drew), Los Angeles Rams
  • Jessica Smith (Howard), Washington Commanders
  • Kayla Thomas (Howard), New York Giants

“Words cannot express how grateful I am to participate in The NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. This program is an unparalleled opportunity that will significantly enhance my career in orthopedics,” said Alexandra Cancio-Bello (Howard). “As the first physician in my family, the support from this initiative to pursue my dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon is extremely meaningful and is an experience I will always be grateful for.”


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