Happy National Athletic Trainers Month Everyone!
This is an important month for us. It’s all about promoting the profession of athletic training and teaching people what we do and how awesome we are. Recently I was asked to speak at a career day for one of our high school clients. Since my job was to create awareness of ATs and what we do, I thought it would be an appropriate month to copy and paste my answers into this blog. Here we go!
1. Please describe your current occupation. What are the tasks and routines that make up the work that you do? What would you say are the primary goals of your position/occupation? What personal attributes are most important to excel at the work you do?
Athletic trainers are allied health care providers who provide medical care to the physically active. We can be found anywhere that athletic events are happening from youth levels through professional sports. Also, ATs work with the military and in the industrial and performing arts settings. Our main responsibilities are prevention, emergency care, diagnosis and treatment of injuries. We are also experts in rehabilitation and can be found working in a clinical setting.
Personally, my tasks and routines include traveling to different schools and fields and watching sporting events and jumping into action whenever someone gets hurt. I make sure that to have a plan of action in case an emergency happens. On the job, I see lots of different patients, who all require different aspects of my skills. Some may need an ankle taped, some may need injuries evaluated, and other times, I have to decide whether people can return to play.
The primary goals of my position/occupation are ensuring that athletes are clear to play sports or engage in physical activity safely. When I decide that it is not safe for a person to play, it’s my job to work with their parents, coaches, athletic director and school nurse to create a plan to get the athlete back in the game.
Personal attributes? To be an athletic trainer, first and foremost, you must be a responsible individual who is quick thinking and an expert in your field. You are going to get a lot of questions every day from parents, coaches and athletes so it’s imperative that you know your stuff. Time management and capacity to stand up to difficult coaches and parents is also important. Lastly, if you don’t like feet or stomach blood, then sorry, this is not the job for you.
2. How did you decide on your career path? What did you need to do to train and prepare to enter your current field/occupation? What advice would you give a student interested in entering your career path after they have graduated from high school?’
Because I didn’t play a school sport, I was unaware of the profession of athletic training and always went to a PT for my sports injuries. I really liked going there and I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. To know for sure, I did an internship to decide if it would be a good fit for me. However, my internship was at an inpatient clinic for elderly patients recovering from falls and hip replacements. This was not what I was expecting. While helping to stretch a patient, she mumbled, “I just want to die.” I knew right then that his was NOT the type of patient I was looking to work with. I needed to work with motivated people who wanted to get better and that was how I decided to become an athletic trainer.
To become an athletic trainer, one must graduate from an CAATE accredited college or university athletic training program. Then that person needs sit for a certification exam (it’s like the bar exam for ATs) and then get a state license to practice. My advice to those interested in becoming an AT is to volunteer with certified athletic trainers to get a feel for the profession. If you are accepted into an AT program, be prepared to study a lot, be attentive and ask a lot of questions.
3. What do you love about your job? What do you see as the “perks” of the field you have entered? What are the toughest moments in your job? What would you change about your field if you had the chance to make one sweeping and permanent change?
I love the ability to interact with and advocate for my patients every day. Making them feel better and returning them to sports is a good feeling. Also, being paid to watch sports is a huge perk and I’ve had the opportunity to provide coverage at a lot of cool events. Lastly being able to work outside on nice days and not be stuck in a stuffy office is awesome.
The toughest moments in my job come when I have to remove a patient from sports or when I encounter a difficult parent or coach.
If I could make one sweeping change, it would be for there to be lots of government funding available for schools to hire athletic trainers. This would create more jobs. Along with this I’d like the ATs salaries to better reflect our education and hours required.
So there you have it. These were the answers to my questions. In the spirit of NATM, feel free to comment on how you would have answered these questions!