The Sports Medicine Program at the University of North Carolina is fortunate to have achieved an outstanding national reputation as a leader in the field of athletic training. Through a long-standing history of publication of leading textbooks in the field, frequent publication in professional referred journals, numerous scholarly presentations at local, regional, national, and international meetings, and more recent success in obtaining external funding, the Sports Medicine program is well respected and widely recognized nationally. In the past collaborative research efforts have occurred between the Division of Sports Medicine, the Department of Orthopedics, the Department of Family Practice, the Division of Physical Therapy, the Department of Athletics, and the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. The Sports Medicine Research Laboratory (SMRL) housed in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, is perhaps one of the best equipped sports medicine laboratories in the country. The facility is used by faculty and graduate students in both the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, the Department of Orthopedics, School of Public Health, Division of Allied Health Services, and the Injury Prevention Research Center. Other research centers within the Department include the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes, and theNeuromuscular Research Laboratory.
All students in the Athletic Training specialization are required to complete an independent research project (Masters Thesis). Students are introduced to the research laboratories during their first semester in the program, and those who express interest are invited to work as a research assistant on existing faculty research projects or perhaps a second year-student’s Masters Thesis. This provides the student with an opportunity to learn how to use the lab equipment and to help develop their own research project. The combination of these extremely well equipped research laboratories, the presence of highly academic and research oriented mentors including faculty and doctoral students, and the availability of a medical school and a school of public health with all of it’s accompanying resources on the Chapel Hill campus, creates unlimited possibilities for graduate students to pursue research projects which are of interest to them. Following completion of the thesis, students are strongly encouraged to prepare their research project for presentation at a scientific meeting or for publication in a scientific journal. The thesis advisor works with the student to prepare such presentation or publication. By providing quality clinical experiences, teaching opportunities, and sound research experiences, students complete a well-rounded program that prepares them for whatever career course they choose to pursue.