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In-Depth Look: Meet an Athletic Trainer who Specializes in Dance Injuries

Posted May 24, 2016

Alison Deleget, MS, ATC, is the Program Manager at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in New York City.  She works with research, education and clinical care of dance patients. 

Describe your setting:

I work at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, a non-profit organization which is part of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. We have several service areas including research, education and clinical care of dancer patients. The Athletic Trainers (ATs) in my department, me included, are skilled within all of these areas. We work with our dance companies to provide on-site care at the company studios, much like a traditional athletic training setting. We also provide educational workshops to dancers, dance teachers and healthcare providers. Our ATs are also an integral part of our research initiatives, authoring or co-authoring publications in dance medicine and serving as investigators on center-wide research studies.

In my current role as Program Manager, I am doing more administrative work now than clinical work. I oversee all service areas of the Harkness Center to ensure our patients are receiving the best possible care. I also ensure our employees are working in a safe and enjoyable workplace, and that the department is in compliance with all of the various state and federal guidelines governing medical practices.

How long have you worked in this setting?

I just celebrated my 10th anniversary at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. I have been in my new position of Program Manager for the last 8 months. Prior to that, I held the title Clinical Specialist.

Describe your typical day:

That’s a tough one! Every day is different, which is one of the things I love about this job. In one week, I can be in several different places, doing very different things.

A typical week may involve: treating one of our companies at their studio, giving an educational workshop to dance students and working with physicians at our dance clinic. I also meet with my department’s management team and/or the hospital’s leadership and spend time completing the various administrative tasks that consistently need attention.

What do you like about your position?

I like the variety of job tasks. I like that I’m constantly challenged to learn and grow, both as a clinician and as a leader within my workplace. And, of course, I LOVE working with the dancers. I am in the unique position to say I do what I love – I get to combine my passions for dance and athletic training every day!

What do you dislike about your position?

I definitely have days when the administrative parts of this job are less than exciting. On those days, I do remember progress comes through good leadership, and I have the opportunity to help this organization grow every day.

Globally, I’m frustrated with the practice limitations ATs have in New York State due to limited third party reimbursement and a practice act that is in dire need of revision. Both of these issues are being actively worked on by dedicated people in New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association (NYSATA) and Eastern Athletic Trainer Association (EATA), so I know things are on the brink of changing for the better.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?

My advice to any AT who is interested in working with dancers or in the performing arts field is to be creative! This is a very new setting for athletic training, which means job opportunities are not plentiful just yet. But, there are thousands of dancers in the United States alone who need good care and would be very appreciative, dedicated patients!

If you can be creative and proactive, there are opportunities out there. Many employers would love to expand their practices into the dance world – a new population means a new revenue stream. They just need the right AT to open that door for them.