In-Depth Look: Assistant Athletic Trainer for the New York Institute of Technology

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Christine Barcavage, MS, ATC is an Assistant Athletic Trainer for New York Institute of Technology, a Division II college with 14 sports programs.

Describe your setting:

I am 1 of 3 Athletic Trainers (ATs) who practice at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). We work together to provide care for all the sports programs, but my primary responsibility is women’s soccer, men’s tennis, men’s basketball, softball and women’s lacrosse. NYIT has a medical school/health clinic on campus where our team physicians are located and are always available.

My responsibilities are not limited to athletic training. I serve as an academic mentor to one student each semester, advisor for AT interns, freshman class leader for our Cubs-to-Bears (Bear Education Athletic and Retention) program and collaborator for the creation of a master’s degree in Athletic Training at our school.

How long have you been practicing as an AT?

This is my third year at New York Institute of Technology. Previously, I worked at St. John’s University for a year after graduating from Seton Hall University with my master’s degree in Athletic Training in 2014.

Describe your typical day:

It depends on whether it is a practice or a travel day.

If it is a practice day, I will come in around 11:00am, set-up fields and do some paperwork until the student athletes arrive around 1:30pm for rehab appointments or pre-practice treatments. I am fortunate to be in an environment where we close the athletic training facility for an hour each day for lunch, giving me the opportunity to tie up loss ends or squeeze in meetings. It can be very hectic on practice days, since all the teams like to start practice around the same time.

Travel days are normally spent within a 2-hour radius of our school so it’s rare that we stay overnight for a competition. However, for out-of-conference games, we play schools all over the country. I work with men’s basketball so have traveled to South Dakota, New Hampshire and Florida.

What do you like about your position?

I love the athletes and the staff around me; the people here make going to work a joy. What is also great about this school is the availability and encouragement of continuing education in any area of interest. I was given the opportunity to attend Kinesio Taping courses and then present at a Sports Medicine Symposium held by the NYIT Medical School. Our athletics department is like a family and we work really well together.

An added benefit about working here is the encouragement of work-life balance. Family life is encouraged and we are able to schedule around family obligations.

While working at NYIT, I have also had the opportunity pursue my goal of becoming a yoga instructor. I am currently working towards my 200-hour certification. I have always incorporated some yogic principles when working with my student athletes and now I am able to further integrate yoga poses, breathing techniques or other theories to have better outcomes for the athletes.

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

I would advise young professionals interested in a college setting, to look beyond the sport assignment and the name or reputation of the school. Take into consideration the vast amount of resources of the work environment. Think about how you will grow as a clinician, how you will gain experience and who is available to teach you. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently in a position where I can learn from the physicians on campus, attend the Sports Medicine Symposium held by the NYIT Medical School or even venture out and take classes.

Another word of advice is to not compromise for a job. There is always another job out there and finding a place that suits your needs is very important. Finding somewhere that enables you and encourages you to be the best clinician you can be is very important.

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