Advice to Young Professionals - How to Promote Yourself as an Athletic Trainer
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Posted January 21, 2016
By Erin Chapman, MS, LAT, ATC
Young athletic training professionals are entering a new stage of the profession. Athletic training is a relatively young profession that is continually growing and adapting to meet the demands of the healthcare environment.
As Athletic Trainers (ATs) are employed in hospitals, industrial settings and other environments and more widely used in secondary schools, we will be asked questions about our profession. As young professionals it is important we promote what we do in a positive light and educate those around us. For example, we should not get upset or hold a grudge if someone misidentifies our profession by calling us a trainer or personal trainer.
Through education and positive promotion of what an AT does, we can change a person’s understanding of the profession and the importance of ATs’ presence in different clinical settings. I have this discussion a lot with my peers and like to think I do a good job of promoting athletic training as a profession and myself as a professional in this field.
Here are some tips for other ATs and athletic training students as they transition into the profession:
1. Positive conversations: Concentrate on our strengths as a profession rather than the negatives. Discuss the educational process ATs go through and what we are capable of doing rather than what we are unable to do.
2. Discuss education and state practice requirements: Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the Board of Certification (BOC) and state certification/licensure are huge strengths for our profession.
3. Professional mentors and connections: Seek out someone who will mentor you as you grow in your career. Network with other ATs to keep current and informed.
4. Public speaking: Take opportunities when possible to promote yourself and the profession. When speaking in public, use positive promotion through clear and focused thoughts to convey your points on different topics to your audience. How you speak and the tone of your delivery is very important so you sound professional.
5. Be cautious of social media: I did not grow up in this profession with all of the social media that is currently available to connect with friends, family and co-workers. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms can be very helpful in spreading positive information but also can be damaging if negative material is posted.
6. Continuing education: Just because you are a Certified Athletic Trainer does not mean you should stop learning or only attend events for continuing education units (CEUs). Yes, we need CEUs to keep our certification current, but to evolve as a practitioner, you need to attend courses and symposiums you can immediately implement into your clinical practice. Determine your goals and find courses that fit within those goals to improve your patient care. Being versed in different assessment and treatment paradigms will make you more marketable when looking for your first job or even a new one.
7. Mindfulness: This is something new to my list, and I am still learning how to be mindful in each aspect of my professional and personal life. The purpose of mindfulness is to live from moment-to-moment without judgment. Through this practice you learn to stay present and focused during each patient interaction. This allows the patient to express their concerns while allowing you to remain empathetic and provide evidence-based, medical and scientific knowledge to their assessment and treatment.
The list above is something I have used to focus my goals as well as to educate future ATs. I am sure there are other components that can be used to promote yourself as a healthcare professional, but this can be used as your initial guide. As you grow as a professional you can add to the list and share with others. Be proud of being an AT and demonstrate enthusiasm in a professional manner for your chosen career.
About the Author
Erin Chapman started working for The College at Brockport as an Athletic Trainer (AT) in March of 2010. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training/Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 2007, and her master’s degree in Human Movement at A.T. Still University in 2009. She is working toward a doctorate in Athletic Training at the University of Idaho. Chapman''s research interests are in breathing pattern disorders in the physically active population and concussion education in intercollegiate athletics.
As an AT, Chapman assists Golden Eagles athletes by working with field hockey; men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field; and men’s lacrosse. Prior to working for The College at Brockport, Erin spent two-and-a-half years as the Head AT and biology teacher at the Winchendon School in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Chapman is a BOC Certified AT and licensed in New York state.