AdvocATe to ElevATe: Tips for Advocating for Athletic Training as a Profession and as a Clinician
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February 22, 2019
By Devon Serrano, DAT, LAT, ATC
As an Athletic Trainer, it is our responsibility to the profession to advocate for its success. We cannot expect respect without demonstrating why it is deserved. While there are numerous ways to advocate, here is a list of 13 ways to advocate for the profession:
1. Use the term “Athletic Trainer” and encourage those you work with to do the same. Remain calm and use it as an opportunity to explain the difference between Athletic Trainers and personal trainers.
2. Prepare an elevator speech to explain the importance of the profession for when someone asks, or the topic comes up. Keep it to about 1 minute and include a fact or 2 about the profession that will help to give your audience insight.
3. Check the “Governmental Affairs” section of your state organization’s website for information on their “Hit the Hill Day.” Read the proposed legislation. Reach out to your legislator. If you’re able, attend the lobbying day and speak with those legislators. Put a face to the cause.
4. Repeat step 3 with the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) “Capitol Hill Day”, held annually in Washington D.C. (https://www.nata.org/advocacy/federal/capitol-hill-day)
a. Capitol Hill Day 2019 will be April 3 with an optional NATA Political Action Committee event the evening of April 2.
5. Get acquainted the “Advocacy” section of the NATA’s website (https://www.nata.org/advocacy). There is information on different initiatives at the federal, state and regulatory levels.
6. The “Own Your Impact” campaign was launched by NATA to help Athletic Trainers articulate and demonstrate their importance to health and wellness in work, life and sport. Check out the “Own Your Impact” section of the NATA website for tools for advocating. #ATimpact (https://www.nata.org/advocacy/own-your-impact)
7. Every 2 years, the NATA sends out the salary survey. Fill out the survey! Doing so gives the NATA accurate information to give to members to use in their career advancement. (https://www.nata.org/career-education/career-center/salary-survey)
a. Use the salary survey when it comes out to help advance yourself as a professional!
8. Participate in and promote National Athletic Training Month (NATM). NATM takes place in March and is spent promoting athletic training and raising awareness of the important work of Athletic Trainers. The 2019 slogan is “ATs Are Health Care.” #NATM2019 #ATsAreHealthCare (https://www.nata.org/advocacy/public-relations/national-athletic-training-month)
9. Utilize the resources provided by the NATA for different settings served by Athletic Trainers. (https://www.nata.org/professional-interests)
10. “AT Your Own Risk” is a public awareness campaign aimed at educating parents, student-athletes, school administrators, legislators and employers on the role of Athletic Trainers as experts in prevention and safety. By providing stakeholders with information about the profession, they can in-turn become advocates for it. (https://www.nata.org/advocacy/public-relations/at-your-own-risk)
11. Get your National Provider Identifier (NPI) Number! A NPI number is a unique 10-digit number that is used in healthcare transactions. Obtaining and NPI number is a simple electronic 1-time process that takes a few minutes and helps to improve the recognition of Athletic Trainers as healthcare professionals across all settings. This can help with lobbying efforts, legislation and reimbursement efforts. (https://www.nata.org/practice-patient-care/revenue-reimbursement/national-provider-identifier-npi)
12. Contact your state or district organization to look for ways to get involved on a larger stage. You can also reach out to the NATA to ask about volunteer opportunities as well! (https://www.nata.org/membership/get-involved)
13. Stay up-to-date on research. New information is constantly coming out. By staying in the loop on new research, we can continue to move the profession forward and provide up-to-date information for our patients. (https://www.nata.org/news-publications/publications#atej)
About the Author
Devon Serrano is the Director of Sports Medicine at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from State University of New York at Cortland in May 2012. At that time, she also received her emergency medical technician certification. She also became a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity as well as SUNY’s emergency medical services. Serrano earned her master’s degree in Clinical Athletic Training from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in December 2014. She also performed 2 clinical rotations at Bucknell University and served as the chapter advisor for Alpha Phi Omega at Bloomsburg. Since graduating, Serrano has gained experience as an intern Athletic Trainer (AT) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. She has also served as the contract AT with Women’s Volleyball at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and an AT for the Warrior Athletic Training Program at Fort Benning through Auburn University. Serrano completed her doctorate in Athletic Training from Indiana State University in May 2017. In her spare time, Serrano can be found volunteering on medical staffs for events ranging from the New York City Marathon to roller derby. Currently, her primary research interest focuses on equestrian athletes. She enjoys life through food, running, movies or spending time with friends and family.