Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Motivation by Carrie Saulters

As the end of the year or season comes around what keeps you motivated to keep coming back every year? It is easy to point out that almost every athletic trainer puts in a lot of hours and can easily feel “burnt out”, but what makes it all worth it?
 I recently had this conversation with another athletic trainer and we decided that what helps us the most is remembering why we picked the field of athletic training in the first place and holding on to the feelings of those you have helped.
Everyone has a different reason for choosing the field of athletic training. I have heard stories from others about being injured while they were in high school, college or they just had a passion for helping people and loving sports. An athletic trainer somewhere made a difference in their lives.  Try to think of that when you are winding down at the end of a season. The athlete you are treating still deserves your very best and you may ignite a passion for the field of athletic training in them, like you once felt.
We also decided that reflecting on the thank you phone calls or emails from students or parents can help ease the burden of working so many hours at the end of the season or year. We also discussed that not everyone has a positive work environment, so it may be up to you to set that tone. Show your co-workers that you have enthusiasm for your job and your athletes and you will set a positive example.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Emotional Resilience by Michelle Holt

In a recent survey that I came across, emotional resilience was defined as is the ability to positively adjust to an adverse, stressful, or difficult situations and maintain one’s good mental health.  The goal of this survey was to understand emotional resilience of athletic trainers and the factors that may contribute to emotional resiliency in different workplace settings. This is really important for each individual to question, and I believe handling confrontation is a one of those factors.
One of my personal strengths (Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath) is harmony. I LOVE when people put aside differences to harmonize or at least cooperate in life and work, making the positive results that much greater. I used to steer clear of confrontation thinking that it hurts harmony, and I confused it as creating conflict rather than finding a solution to the problem. Before I was mature enough to learn, I struggled in a work environment that was full of it, crumbling emotionally instead of rising to my potential. I also experienced a work environment that was the other side of the spectrum where confrontation was avoided so much in the culture that there was a huge lack of accountability. In this situation, accountability would be necessary for making progress. So, it was ton of effort to make the wheels spin but we were still going nowhere. After different stages of learning the hard way, I see and accept confrontation as an opportunity to build harmony and as a leadership skill that is vital to hold your team together through accountability.

I bring this topic up because I think that in any job the right fit for someone has a lot more to do with this aspect of emotional resilience. Think about emotional resilience as it relates to how you interact with others, but also how the environment (mainly the people) allow you to maintain a healthy mental state. People around you have different skill levels and methods keeping the emotional balance. What do you need and what do you need to do to positively impact your work and life environment?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ATs hosting secondary school PPE’s

It’s that time of year again for secondary school ATs. The medical eligibility paperwork process for next year is in full swing. Since we just wrapped up hosting our own physical exam night, I have PPE’s on my mind. All the hard work and preparation my worker and I did in advance kept things going as smoothly as it could have gone…even despite the doctors showing up late or cancelling last minute. But, when it was all said and done I couldn’t help but question, why do all this?
We had a simple but specific process in place to have our high school and middle school students sign up for our physical exams. We had been planning, communicating with coaches and pushing out the broadcast in many different ways for weeks leading up to our event. Still, the final result of numbers was more than disappointing. We had such a small percentage of our student athletes that needed physicals actually take advantage of what we offered.
We do this for a few benefits, primarily being cheap and convenient for busy parents and athletes. The goal of hosting PPE’s is to help complete a significant portion of our population’s medical paperwork requirements in a timely manner. It is also a benefit to have our high quality physicians helping. Then we as athletic trainers are immediately aware of the “red flag” positive medical findings and are able to address the next steps with the parents in a timely manner.
After all our efforts of communication, we still didn’t have the back-up we needed from the coaches to get the kids/parents to sign up. For many, following instructions to complete the sign-up was a struggle. Regardless of how many actually come, we put the same amount of time and effort into the details of orchestrating and setting up the event. The nicest way to sum up our event was a BIG hassle with very little outcome. On top of it all there are now many local clinics that offer “cheap and easy” sports physical exams with extended night and weekend hours available. Parents often jump to these options anyways. So, it brings me to ask, was it really worth it? Do we do this again next year?
Consistent with the recommendations of the NATA’s Safe Sports School Award (link below, check it out!!), I feel athletic trainers are responsible to coordinate PPE’s. However, we do this as we communicate to parents how to fulfill the PPE requirements and as we diligently collect the paperwork to ensure that each athlete has completed this and has the necessary medical information on file. From my perspective this does not mean that we are not adequately doing our jobs if we do not host a physical exam event at our school. If you’re a secondary school AT have you had similar struggle hosting PPE’s? Do you feel pressure to provide physicals at your school?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

District VI memories

Recently, SWATA announced the election results, and welcomed Chris Hall as the new district director.  We also saw Valerie Hairston named to her second term as the Member-At-Large, and Lorna Strong as the Eddie Wojeki recipient.  What an awesome group of candidates and award winners!
I had the pleasure of working as a student under Chris Hall at TCU.  He has such a passion for the profession, and his love for the work we do truly shows.  Texas and Arkansas have been able to do so many things on both the state and local level, and I look forward to everything that we will do in the future. 

As we creep towards the July meeting, I wanted to take some time to reflect on all the work Kathy Dieringer has done as the District VI director.  During the 2014 convention, Kathy asked the Young Professionals’ Committee to tackle the NPI contest.  The YP’s teamed up with the PR, CUATC, and COPA committees to increase both awareness and on-site NPI registrations.  As committee chair, I was thankful for Kathy reaching out and trusting me with this initiative.  I know there are many stories out there just like mine- District VI what are some of your memories of working alongside Kathy? 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Current Events by Kimber Rodgers

There have been a lot of legislative initiatives recently.  Many of which will affect athletic trainers.  There are some others that will also affect teachers in the public schools.  If you are a secondary school athletic trainer, like me, you could possibly be affected by all of these.

This has definitely opened my eyes to several things!  I will admit, in the past, when I receive an e-blast from NATA or SWATA I usually read the subject line then delete it.  After becoming more involved and becoming a member of the Young Professionals’ Committee, I have made a conscious effort to read all of the communication I receive.  I never realized what I had been missing out on!  There is so much information conveyed in those e-blasts!

Recently, a friend of mine got a new job, and when discussing salary with his employers, they used the NATA salary survey “like it was the Bible.”  However, a majority of athletic trainers licensed and certified did not participate in the survey.  How will we get an accurate picture of the profession as a whole if we, the members, are not willing to provide our input?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Job Strategies for the Young Professional: A Brief Interview with Chris Young. By: Kimber Rodgers

Recently, I spoke with Chris Young, a colleague and classmate from graduate school.  He has had several unique job experiences so far in his athletic training career; working as an intern for the Oakland Raiders and the  Phillies organization, with US Soccer, an assistant and head athletic trainer at a NCAA Division I university, and in a clinical setting as an outreach coordinator.  So I asked how he has gotten to where he is and what advice he might offer to other young professionals.  Here is what he had to say:

Me: What has made you able to obtain the positions you’ve had?
Chris:  A lot of it was that I was in the right place at the right time. There were a lot of times where I just worked hard and did some of the grunt work and put in my time doing the not so fun stuff.  I didn’t really realize that people were paying attention.  I didn’t think I was doing anything special; I was just doing what they taught us in school.  But, people were paying attention and thought I was doing a good job.  So it was partially “right-place-right-time”, but I feel like I worked hard to prove that I was good enough.  A lot of it is just work ethic.

Me: Do you think that the people that you have met while in those different positions have helped you?
Chris:   The big thing that [our professor] taught us is to never burn a bridge.  So, I’ve tried really, really hard.  You know, there’s times where you have to bite your tongue.  There’s times when your day just sucks but you just have to grin and bear it and do what you’ve got to do to hold up your end of the deal.  For me, fortunately, it worked out to where it turned into some things that were bigger and better than where I was at before.

Me:  So do you think it was the other athletic trainers you’ve met that have helped you, or the coaches you’ve worked with?  Who do you think has really helped you along the way?
Chris:  I think it’s been a good sampling of everything.  I really attribute a lot to the connections I’ve
made.  You know, the athletic training world is really small.  Just trying to stay connected with people; because, as you move on and leave a place, that’s just another connection.  I think the people I’ve worked with or worked for, I was just fortunate to be with, even if it was just a short time in that setting.  So, you just work hard and stay connected to them.  Then, when there’s something you want to do, you reach out to them and say, “Hey, I don’t know if you know anybody but…” and if you do enough job they’ll stick their neck out for you.

Me: What are some things that you’ve learned that were not so good, that may have been disadvantages of the different settings you’ve been and what have you learned from that?
Chris:  One of the worst relationships I’ve had with an administrator is when I just wasn’t respected.  I was young and probably had no business having that job and they knew it, so they told me about it.  I had a really hard time with that.  I may have been a little more vocal than I should have been, but there are definitely some things I could have done differently.

Me:  So, did that experience change and shape how you did things in your next position?
Chris: Something I didn’t do that I should have done, and I will make sure to do going forward, is the very first thing to do when I get to a new setting is I’ll sit down with the coach or athletic director and say, “What are your expectations of me?”  Then we’ll have a conversation of what it is they expect from me.  And I’ll tell them what I expect on the athletic training side.  Communication and respect are big things.  If I had done that, it probably would’ve changed things.  Communication is so important! And you have no idea who is watching.

Me:  What advice would you give to young professionals, that are just starting to look for jobs, or those who are looking to work in a new setting?  What advice would you give them that is maybe something you wish you would have known right out of school?
Chris:  I started an internship position, hoping that they may have a full-time position at the end of the summer.  But they didn’t, so I was scrambling to find something.  But all I found was another internship.  I remember calling home at one point and I was so frustrated and said, “I am always going to be the professional intern! This is not why I went to grad school.” And my dad said, go ahead and stick it out and see how it goes.  That eventually turned in to my US Soccer job, which basically gave me the foundation to do anything I want to do.  Because I stuck it out; it was that grunt work and the stuff that nobody wants to do.  Sometimes you’re the low man on the totem pole.  You just have to be a little bit humble.  I wish I would have paid a little bit better attention to the people I was around.  Like at Tech, or when I was with some of the pro-teams - you’re just wide-eyed and trying to take everything in. You’re going to get into a setting where you just have to do it; and the more you’ve seen and the more you’ve been around, the more you can make good decisions on “yeah, I saw that, great!” or “yeah, I saw that, but I’d do it a little bit different.”  People ask me now, “What did you do with the Raiders?” “I don’t know!  I was just a little intern and was so excited to be there.” And I didn’t pay as close attention as I should have.  Just try to soak everything up that you can.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Athletic Training: A World of Adventure by Mark Stephens

I love being an athletic trainer!  Why?  One word: adventure.  This career, certainly in the traditional setting, is never dull, never the same, always changing.  Every season brings new athletes, a few new coaches, new opponents, new game strategies and new injuries.  No injury is the same because the athletes are different.  This alone keeps you thinking, keeps you fresh.
In my short time of being an athletic trainer, I have gotten to experience traveling, TONS of games, hundreds of athletes and hundreds of coaches.  I have worked with injured 12 year old athletes who are as young as 12 years old, and others who are close to 30.  I have provided athletic training services to at least 17 different sports from beginning levels to collegiate championship levels and beyond.  Each of these sports and teams remain in the memory banks for highs of winning, lows of losing, difficulties conquered and goals reached.  Each event is an adventure.
As I age, it becomes too easy to dwell on the negative and fail to see the adventure and enjoyment that surrounds our profession every day.  I can recall going to AT conferences and listening to the older ATs complain about playoffs and long seasons and long days, working with athletes, parents, coaches, etc.  I made a resolution to do everything I could not to become “that guy”, that sour man who hates life.  One of the ways that I have found that combats that sour disposition from sinking in is to cherish the adventure within the profession.  To be honest though, I still sometimes find myself sinking into that sour outlook, but when I focus on the adventure and true enjoyment of what we do, I find the sourness fades.

There are many adventures that athletic training has taken me on.  It’s been ride, some of highs and some lows. However, it may be your biggest adventure you take in life. And, I can tell you from first-hand experience, if you are not careful and pay attention, it will go by in a blink. Cherish the memories you’ve made and work to make new ones you are to remember in the future.