NFL Chooses Pitt Medical Student to Work With Steelers

June 25, 2024

Faith Kehinde, a third-year Pitt medical student, will have the opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp this summer and work with the team’s medical staff as part of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.

The National Football League, the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) on Tuesday announced the roster of medical students who will participate in the program for its third year.

“I’m incredibly excited to have been chosen for this program, looking forward to learning from the best of the best,” Kehinde said.

Growing up in Reading, Pa., she ran track and field, and her athletic trainers encouraged her to consider a career in medicine, she said. She attended college at Pitt, graduating as a neuroscience major. When she started medical school, her focus was on orthopaedics.

She started a program called Youth Sports in the Hill, or YSH, in which medical students help out on the sidelines of youth football games to help ensure players are safe.

“It’s good to be there to support where we can,” she said.

When she learned of the pipeline program through Chenits Pettigrew, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and MaCalus Hogan, David Silver Professor and chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kehinde applied in the hope of helping to care for professional athletes as well. She said she is honored to help serve the Steelers, despite being a longtime Eagles fan.

Last year, Warren Austin was Pitt’s first medical student to participate in the program.

Launched in 2022, the league-wide program aims to increase and diversify the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine and, over time, help to diversify NFL medical staffs.

Students from 21 medical schools have been matched with NFL teams for one-month clinical rotations focused on primary care sports medicine and/or orthopedic surgery. The rotations provide students with the opportunity to learn from and work directly with medical staff as they deliver care to players. Student clinical rotations will begin as training camps open for the 2024 NFL season next month.

During their one-month rotations, students will observe and participate in the care of NFL players, working directly with and under the supervision of the orthopedic team physicians, primary care team physicians, athletic trainers, dietitians, mental health clinicians, strength and conditioning coaches, equipment managers, and others to gain medical knowledge and exposure to patient care in sports medicine.

Students will also become familiar with return-to-play protocols and on-field treatment considerations for NFL players. By the end of the rotation, students will understand the basic elements of all facets of care provided to NFL players from an orthopedic, primary care sports medicine and athletic training perspective.

Since expanding the initiative league-wide last season, the NFL has been working to include additional disciplines and roles from its player care “Team Behind the Team” in the program, including physician assistants, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists and behavioral health clinicians.