Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Getting Involved

There are traditional views of involvement that we have all read about: be a member of your local, regional and national associations and serve on committees.  But is that really it? Is that the only way to promote the profession of athletic training? There are so many ways to serve the organization on the smaller scale that we can all fit into our very busy schedules.

Surveys! Almost weekly I read an email from an athletic training student asking me to complete a survey that will take about 5 minutes to complete.  This is a simple way to continue to advancement in athletic training.  If everyone filled out these surveys in order to assist in research, I am sure not only would the academic world be very appreciative, all athletic trainers and our patients would benefit. 

Vote! As a member in any organization the best perk you have is the right to vote!  Make sure that you cast your ballot at elections in your associations.  And not to get political, but your vote counts for athletic training when voting for local, state and federal elections as well. Do your research and vote on those elected officials who support our cause (you can find all of this info through the NATA offices).  Voting is involvement.

Send a letter!  Once an elected official is in office, make sure they know what you (their constituent) want.  When asked to send a letter to your elected official, usually a letter that is already written for you, please get involved and send it (again, these letters are already made for you on the NATA website).

Get involved at your work place! By stepping out of the athletic training room and serving on committees and projects you are promoting athletic training.   They are plenty of different projects going on some really need the skills of an athletic trainer, so get involved where can help. This usually reaps the best rewards because your employer will take note! If at a high school make sure you are being recognized as a Safe Sports School.

Communicate!  Social media has changed the world, use it to be an involved athletic trainer.  Encourage students to use social media properly and in a way to promote what we do.

Get an NPI number, it free, easy, identifies you as a medical professional and helps promote the profession.

Be a mentor – go to NATA website for more information.


Finally if you want to become a committee member, sign up on the website and/or send an email to the committee chair.  Volunteer at a convention or symposium. There are so many ways to get involved without having to invest too much time.

-Stephanie Nelson

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Using LinkedIn

In today’s world, we have multiple ways to communicate with others. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to SnapChat, there are tons of different means of communication with friends and family. LinkedIn was best described to me as “professional Facebook”. You can go on LinkedIn and create a profile that includes all education, work experience, certifications and volunteer opportunities. This profile will give you access to all of the information and opportunities available by LinkedIn. You can connect to groups in order to receive updates and news. You can look at interesting news articles that apply to you in your particular industry. 

You can also reach out to other individuals for networking. I’ve used LinkedIn to advance my career. I’ve used it to reach out to mentors, keep up with friends and family, and continue connections I’ve made in the workplace, as well as advertise myself to future employers. I’ve created a quick to-do list for all of those who are new to LinkedIn.


1.       Get a LinkedIn Profile
2.       Get a PROFESSIONAL photo (no party photos!)
3.       Update your work experience and educational information
a.       Undergraduate Work
b.      Graduate Work
c.       Research Experience
d.      Any other relevant work information
e.      Certifications
4.       Connect with all co-workers in order to build your “connections”
5.       Reach out to your connection’s connections
6.       Personalize your “Pulse”
a.       Basically, this is the stream of news articles suggested for you based on your industry
7.       Join a group
a.       National Athletic Trainers’ Association
8.       Talk about it!
a.       No one knows you have a LinkedIn if you don’t bring it up!


In today’s job search, everything can be “googled”. This can either help you or hurt you. Let LinkedIn help you in your next job search today. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, GET A LINKEDIN!! This is such a great resource that can be tapped into by Young Professionals in order to move forward in your career.

-Roger Sancho


Friday, March 21, 2014

Extra CEU Opportunities!

As you plan your summer CEU's opportunities either through SWATA or the NATA convention, please add to your schedule the opportunity to get 6 FREE CEU's towards your NATA BOC or State requirements.
The SMU Sports Medicine Staff and the WB Carrel Clinic are hosting NATA Hall of Fame Athletic Trainer, Rod Walters on Saturday, 6/7/14. 

A few of the topics that will be covered in this year’s seminars are:
·       Injury Treatment and Rehabilitation
·       Cardiac Screening
·       Treatment of Heat Related Illness
·       Emergency Action Plans
·       Concussion Management

You can sign up online at:  http://rodwalters.com/seminars/  Find the ATEO seminar in Dallas and click on the link to register. 

If you have any questions regarding this opportunity please contact Becky Rolke or Rod Walters directly. 

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you!


Rebecca Rolke
Assistant Athletic Trainer
Southern Methodist University
5800 Ownby Drive
PO Box 750315
Dallas, TX 75275
Office: 214-768-2429

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ask not what NATA can do for you...


As chair of the YPC in District 6, I often hear the cry from the general public that NATA doesn’t do enough for our profession.  My reply always is, “Well, what do you want from them? What do you think they should be doing?”  Half the time this question is met with a glassy stare and a few vapid blinks.  The other half of the time it’s something along the lines of “they should be passing laws to make us have better salaries and better work conditions!”

So let me start there. The NATA is not a union and they are not there to regulate salary for us. I’m not sure I’d want them to. I’m not sure if a blanket salary would be beneficial or feasible. An athletic trainer working in Los Angeles certainly needs a bigger salary to meet cost of living than one in rural Texas. NOR do we want the NATA mandating our working conditions. What works in one high school may not work in one college.  With that being said, the NATA is there to help give each athletic trainer the tools necessary for each of these hypothetical ATs to get the best situation they can.

In 2013, only 494 NATA members contributed to NATAPAC.  That is less that 1% of our professional organization.  This is a huge problem.  For all those that say NATA should be changing laws and demanding better working conditions, I’m sorry to inform you, you have the wrong organization in mind.  The NATAPAC is the one that can get the ball rolling on those things.

The NATAPAC enables employees or members of groups, like the NATA, to pool their resources and make political contributions to candidates that support issues related to the group.  Monies have to be given to the PAC by individuals in the group, and cannot be given by the group themselves.  Meaning NATA cannot give support to politicians who support third party reimbursement for ATs (support = MONEY!), the individuals within the group (US!) must do it.  You know? All that checks and balances stuff we learned about once upon a time…

The PAC does the hard work for us. They find the politicians on both sides of the political poles that support what athletic trainers do and what they are capable of doing, and then work with those to formulate those laws that protect athletic trainer’s wants and needs.  A small gift by you to the NATAPAC would help accomplished a lot of the goals that our general public thinks that NATA should be doing for us.  If nothing, the NATAPAC breakfast held every year at the annual symposium is a great opportunity for networking, socializing, and fundraising for the profession.  I’ve attended for several years and it has always been worth the early wake up time.

And while contributions to the NATAPAC (or any other PAC for that matter!) are not tax write-offs, contributions to the NATA Foundation are.  So, in this tax season, if you are looking to beef up your deductions, please consider the Foundation.  The NATA Foundation works to give scholarships and grants to researchers within the profession.  One reason that ATs struggle to make footing with our professional peers is that our research pool is fairly limited. Sure, there is tons of research taking place in sports medicine, but it is not being done by athletic trainers.  That is a very important distinction and certainly one that will help us create a better image of the profession.

For more information on both organizations, visit:


-Tiffany McGuffin

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Debate: Part Deux


Our profession is involved in a heavy discussion.  No, not the name change, AGAIN.  For those of you following the developments on the entry-level master’s (ELM) discussion over the past 6-12 months, and in particular in the last few weeks after the release of the NATA’s Entry-level degree evaluation document, you may have an opinion one way or the other.

For those of you in the dark, you need to be brought into the light.  Please read now: http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/The_Professional_Degree_in_Athletic_Training.pdf

Before we dive too much into this, let’s make a quick clarification.  What we have, as a profession, known to be an Entry Level Masters is what we are going to be here on referring to as a “professional degree.”  That increase in professionalism is the goal of this whole process.  As was stressed this weekend at the NATA Joint Committee Meeting, the “white papers” are just step one into the future of the profession.  Once NATA comes up with their recommendation, it will have to present to CAATE and the BOC, making this process very long.  It won’t be many, many years until this is enacted. If we make a parallel to the PT world, it took them 15 years to make the transition to their professional degrees. So we have to think as a profession as a whole, where are we headed, and where do we want to go?

As I said, the NATA Joint Committee meeting was held this past weekend in Dallas and served as an opportunity for all National Committee Appointments to gather and plan for the future of the NATA.  It was a valuable experience, allowing me to see what our volunteers in all of our special interest groups are up to.  Naturally, this Professional Degree was a large topic of discussion.  I had read the white papers prior to and was firmly planted on the fence, but, man!, the ladies and gentlemen behind this research have done a fantastic job thoroughly investigating it.  You may not for a moment think this is a hasty decision, I can promise you that.  So here are some things that I have heard in the last few weeks, and what I have learned regarding each one.

This first part that was super appealing to me was the idea that with Professional Degrees, we could align ourselves more with other Allied Health Care Professionals on campus.  I’m not sure this was spelled out so well in the white papers, but when some of the researchers were presenting, it was a major “AHA!” moment for me.  If you are taking a lower extremity course in a health care department, not a kines department, your classmates will be other health care professions.  We won’t have to prove how much we know when faced with other therapists because they will know what we know.  Our education foundation would be in the same EXACT class! Brilliant! On top of that, aligning ourselves with colleges of health care, not kinesiology, will allow us to escape the Rule of Athletics.  Like the super successful model at Boston University, this switch would pave the way for ATs who do not work for coaches and athletic directors.  That’s a whole other blog post, but, the job of an AT should not be influenced by a boss who has other motives.  This move will help that.

I also think the ECE’s point about basic courses competing with AT courses is valid. Letting the students get their GE requirements out of the way before being immersed in their clinical rotations will increase their drive, focus, and passion for athletic training.  I know first-hand, taking English and Modalities in the same semester, is a daunting task.  Why not let our students be fully immersed in what is they are trying to become?  

This new undergrad experience will allow for more science-based pre-requisites, one area identified as lacking in our Evidence Based world.  If you think for a second that physics are necessary for modalities and rehab, you are dead wrong.

One of the biggest draws, is student maturity and making athletic training a terminal profession.  I know the previous post already addressed this, so I won’t go bananas, but let’s all briefly reflect on the student we were at 18 and the student we were at 22.  For those of you in our secondary schools, its equivalent to the difference between a middle schooler and a high schooler, bless those little 7th graders’ hearts!

One of the common “cons” is the cost of education vs. the salary return.  For most in our profession, I would be willing to venture, this is already a reality. I know GA positions are sold to us as being “free education,” but I still left grad school with loans as do most of our newest grads.  It was not free, nor was my stipend “liveable” for a certified professional.  Bringing academics into the graduate level allows for greater scholarships and grants. 

Again, this education reform is not the solution to our salary issue, nor is that the design, and I know that is what everyone wants. Until we align ourselves with peers deserving of an increased salary that will never happen.  Remember, we are classified as “technicians” in the current healthcare model because we lack a professional degree.  Translation: we are no more skilled than a medical assistant or an EMT.  I know that not to be true.  That alone should send everyone knocking down the ELM door.

Another argument I have heard through the grapevine is that we are eliminating the GA position and that is a bad thing.  This was one of the ones I sided with when I read through the white papers the first few times, but have changed my mind. From meeting with those involved in this investigation this weekend, our advanced degrees, included skilled residencies, Specialty Certifications, and higher education (Doctorates in Athletic training and Advanced Masters) will be enacted sooner than our Professional Degree.  The authors were unanimous in our need for higher education and more enriching educational opportunities, not just the letters behind the name.  In our current model, that is what grad school does.  It gets us the letters and attempts to make a bridge from student to certified professional.  But, speaking from experience, my GA position had very little bridging.  I was a (wo)man all unto myself.  Sure it was a valuable experience, but it was an unguided experience.  Name any other profession that an entry level job is a lone gig.  There is none.  No first year doctor would open his own practice.  No first year nurse, would run an ER by himself. No first year PT would open his own clinic.  But we surly send a first year ATC out to cover 1,000 of athletes at the high school level.  We are sending our lambs to the slaughter!!!

Residency programs are now being accredited by CAATE and will be the future of athletic training.  The pay is on-par with other professions’ residencies, and they are full time positions with benefits.  Which our GA positions are not.  An even bigger plus for the profession, they are guided, educational opportunities.

And the quickly on the R Word tied to the S word: Reimbursement.  Again, as long as we are classified as technicians, we won’t be eligible for reimbursement.  It’s a fight we will keep fighting for sure, but will continuously struggle with reimbursement until all states have licensure and until we have a professional education standard.

One more thing before I close would be to argue against one of the most common “cons” I have heard. Honestly, I felt the same way, until presented with truth and evidence this weekend at the Joint Committee meeting. “We are cutting clinical time and we are already lacking in clinical experience!!!!” “We expect students to get better in 2 years when they aren’t good in 4 years!” The Professional Degree would incorporate just as much, if not more, clinical experience than our traditional bachelors.  Remember, we are eliminating the “fluff” of undergrad: student organizations, general studies, Greek Life, etc. Also, the degree outline is non-stop, beginning June 1 and ending August 31, two years later.  There is no summer break and there are no lulls in education.  Many of the pilot programs have even allowed a full Fall (where we know we get some of our richest clinical experiences) to be strictly clinical rotations. That’s right folks: a full “40 hour work week” of just clinic for our students.  No undergrad is experiencing that right now.


In the name of time, this post will conclude.  Please send me your thoughts, comments and concerns, and I will do my best to share with you what I have learned.  Plus, you will give me fodder for Blog, Part 3. :)

-Tiffany McGuffin

One Side of the ELM Debate


After following the developments on the entry-level master’s (ELM) discussion over the past 6-12 months, and in particular after reading the NATA’s Entry-level degree evaluation document, I have hopped down off the fence and stepped confidently onto the side in favor of making this change to a Master’s degree.  What follows is one girl’s opinion including what I believe to be the most important points of this issue in favor of a transition to an ELM degree.  If you’re looking for evidence behind these points, you’ll find it in the degree evaluation document by following this link: http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/The_Professional_Degree_in_Athletic_Training.pdf.  Be warned I am only presenting one side of the argument.  I was planning on presenting both sides but it turns out that one side of the story is pretty lengthy!!  Either that or I’m just long-winded…

For some historical perspective, it is important to note that the NATA’s Vision Quest (VQ) report, which was intended to give us direction and vision for the profession into the year 2020, said the Bachelor’s degree is currently meeting our needs, but that requirements will continue to be evaluated contingent upon the health care market.  It seems that is what we are doing, so in this way things are going according to the VQ plan.

Switching to an ELM is going to be a huge undertaking when it happens, and I believe it will happen eventually.  The NATA/CAATE/BOC have already used a significant amount of time, manpower, energy, and money to examine our entry level degree and figure out if this is the right move.  I imagine that if we decide not to make this change, the NATA will wait 3-5 years, someone else will bring it up, and we will repeat this process all over again (ahem….nomenclature), thereby using more money, manpower and energy that could be put somewhere else.  I don’t think anyone can deny this change needs to happen eventually, so unless we see some huge red flags during the research and investigation, let’s just make the right decision now and go for it.  It will be hard, but if we take our time and make sure we do it right, we will look back as those who made the decision about eliminating the internship route did and know that even through all the struggle and stress it was worth it because it was the right thing for the profession.

We have too many AT programs. If you ask me, its straight up redonkulous and I think if we lost a few programs, or 100, it would be better for the profession and better for our students. We are wide and shallow.  It is time for us to become narrower and deeper. Would cutting the number of AT Programs be hard for a lot of people? Definitely, and that is absolutely unfortunate. But ultimately it would be for the greater good and so it will be worth it, and the strong will survive which will strengthen our profession.  Additionally, a lot of AT programs have “numbers” requirements to keep them afloat which further contributes to the dilution of AT-focused students in our programs.  Decrease the number of programs and the students per program should increase, therby solving the numbers problem. I just can’t get the vision out of my head of what kind of profession we would have if we really focused on the students who want to do what we do.  Can you imagine?

Regarding the "stepping stone" concept, I believe this issue is very complex and has so many layers, that it will be hard to adequately address here.  Briefly, though, I think most students who come through our ATPs fall into one of four categories:
1.   they want to end up as a PT/PA/etc from the get go and truly are using AT as a stepping stone
2.   they go into it wanting to be ATs and then somewhere during their education decide they don’t like the idea of being overworked, underpaid, and disrespected for what might be the rest of their lives so they decide they will finish the ATP and then focus on something else for their post-graduate work
3.   they finish the ATP, maybe go to grad school for AT-related study, enter the workforce, decide they can’t or don’t want to deal with being overworked/underpaid/disrespected so they go back to school for PT/PA/etc and end up leaving the profession
4.   they finish the ATP, end up working as an AT, and stay in it for the extent of their career. 
Changing the degree to an ELM would probably all but eliminate groups 1 and 2, thus eliminating our “stepping stone” problem for the most part.  I’m not sure groups 3 and 4 will be affected directly by a change to an ELM because these individuals’ end-goal is AT.  What is the best move for the students who will be ATs for the rest of their lives?  Our focus should always be here, and all the others will find their way, and they will be okay.  We can mentor them and encourage them and help them find their way, but we can’t make our plans around them.

I also think the ECE’s point about basic courses competing with AT courses is valid. Letting the students get their GE requirements out of the way before being immersed in their clinical rotations will increase their drive, focus, and passion for athletic training. 

That’s all I have as far as a point-by-point perspective regarding the ELM degree debate. Hopefully I have adequately represented my perspective, and I hope someone will provide a thoughtful presentation of the potential drawbacks of an entry-level degree change. The fact is we don't REALLY know what this change will do to our profession. This degree evaluation document is the closest thing we have to an idea of what kind of chain reaction a degree change could set off. 

We have many other problems that need fixing (salary, ATs lacking in secondary school, only 48 states with licensure, lack of recognition and respect from others, and our identity crisis).  There is no way to know how an ELM will affect these problems, but I don’t think this is something we should expect to be able to predict.  Most of these other problems I just listed are OUR problems, and if WE don’t put our energy, time, and passion into fixing them, we will never see our dreams realized.  Our salaries, being respected, and our identity crisis are not problems the NATA, CAATE, or BOC can fix. Only we can.  So let’s let the powers that be use their wisdom and resources to make this decision, and as we stay informed and speak our minds about this, let’s daily wage war against apathy, self-loathing, and the status quo and move this profession forward.

So what do you think about the ELM degree debate?  …and please don’t comment until you’ve read the document – make sure you’re opinion is educated!

-Kim Detwiler


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Involvement

I had the great pleasure of assisting with the Texas State Licensure exam this past week, and, as I passed out flyers encouraging student to get involved, I began thinking back over my career involvement.

I was fortunate enough to come from a CAATE ATEP program with instructors who pushed involvement on us at both the state and local level.  Both my clinical coordinator and program director assisted with the state licensure and national certification exams when they could.  Both attended local and national meetings.  Both were adamant that we attend the meetings to network and learn.  Their attitude towards involvement was always positive, and encouraging.  They wanted us to develop professionally, and they knew this was one of the best ways to do so.  This attitude was passed down to us- so much so that we would spend countless hours fundraising to pay our way to San Diego, St. Louis, and even Baltimore.  We wanted to be there.  We wanted to network.  We wanted to learn.  We knew the importance of it all, and that has carried over into our careers now.  Once I was out of grad school, I wanted to get involved at the local level, which is one of the biggest reasons I decided to join the Young Professional’s Committee. 

Sitting in the lobby of Ben Hogan on Sunday, I began thinking about why other athletic training students chose the same path as I did, and why others chose not to even be members of NATA at all.  What is the deciding factor that tips them to contribute back?  What aspires them to lobby at Capitol Hill?  To join a committee?  To attend annual meetings?  

It seems as though it can be traced back to their CAATE program.  If their program directors and clinical coordinators encourage them to be involved and attend annual meetings, they will.  If their student organization can raise funds to help ease the cost of the trips, then more students will opt to go.  If the location and student program appear enticing, it peaks more student interest.  If they feel as though they can have a voice on the student senate, they will pursue it.  But some schools do not have an athletic training student organization, and other’s programs are poorly managed.  Some instructors feel as though their time and money can be better put to use at an educators conference, rather than NATA and SWATA.  This feeling may trickle down to the students, who in turn chose not to participate in the annual meetings.  Whatever the reasoning is, there is a population of athletic trainers who chose not to become involved in the profession outside of their daily jobs.  

The question is, how do those of us who are involved reach out to those who are not?

-Courtney Hobbs