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The Carolina Panthers participate in NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative

Alexis Restrepo

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers will have a new face working alongside their team medical staff this summer.

As part of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, fourth-year M.D. student Alexis Restrepo of Wake Forest University School of Medicine will complete a one-month clinical rotation with Carolina.

Under the supervision of team physicians – some of whom are physicians at Atrium Health, the official health care provider of the Carolina Panthers – as well as the club's athletic trainers, Restrepo will observe staff and work directly with players.

Restrepo's rotation begins while the Panthers are at training camp in Spartanburg.

"The NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative will allow me to gain practical exposure to professional-level sports medicine, along with meaningful connections, support, and mentorship in the sports medicine field," said Restrepo, a native of Cape Coral, Fla., and Florida State University graduate.

"I cannot wait to learn more about what it means to be a team physician and apply the skills and knowledge I gain to my future career in orthopedics."

The program, in collaboration with the NFL, the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS), and the Professional Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS), is focused on increasing and diversifying the pipeline of students seeking a career in sports medicine. Over time, the goal is to help diversify teams' medical staffs.

Restrepo is one of 32 medical students from 19 medical schools nationwide participating in the initiative.

The NFL's Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative is in its second year, expanding from last year's initiative, which placed 14 students with eight NFL teams. This year's program expanded to the entire league, including more than double the number of students involved in its inaugural year.

"The NFL and our club medical staffs are thrilled to welcome these impressive medical students from around the country to the league this season," NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said. "The league-wide expansion of the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative this season demonstrates strong interest in sports medicine from diverse and under-represented medical students and is indicative of our clubs' commitment to diversity in all facets of the game."

Restrepo, who has rotated in sports medicine during her orthopedic surgery clerkship at Wake Forest, has participated in medicine-focused research analyzing rehabilitation after bicep tendon surgery. She has also volunteered at local football games and participated in soccer, tennis, and swimming in high school.

"I am thrilled that Alexis was selected to participate in this prestigious program, and I know this experience will enhance the training she continues to receive here at Wake Forest University School of Medicine," said Dr. Ebony Boulware, dean of the medical school and chief science officer of Advocate Health, which is joined with Atrium Health and partners with Wake Forest as its academic core. "Alexis has a very bright future ahead of her, and the knowledge she will gain from this time with the Carolina Panthers will help her immensely as she pursues her orthopedic surgery residency after graduation next year."

During her time at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Restrepo has rotated in sports medicine throughout an orthopedic surgery clerkship, has been involved in sports medicine-focused research looking at rehabilitation after bicep tendon surgery, and has volunteered at local high school football games.

"Mentorship is a critical component of recruiting students into our field, so we're thrilled to immerse more talented medical students with diverse backgrounds into the NFL clubs' medical communities," said Dr. Timothy McAdams, president of the NFL Physicians Society. "We're all looking forward to watching this program continue to grow and impact more medical students in years to come."

As the Diversity in Sports Medicine Initiative grows, the NFL aims to expand the program in the future to include more disciplines across the NFL's player care "Team Behind the Team." This group would consist of physician assistants, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and behavioral health clinicians.

The Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative is part of the league's broader commitment to ensure that staff and leaders in the league office and at NFL clubs reflect the racial and gender makeup of America. Among NFL club medical staffs, the initiative builds on existing efforts to recruit and hire diverse medical staff when positions become available across all roles, and to increase diversity across NFL medical committees.

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