In-Depth Look: Head Athletic Trainer Practicing in a Collegiate Setting

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Dinika S Johnson, MS, ATC/L, CES, PES is the Head Athletic Trainer for Georgia State University. She primarily works with the men’s basketball and women’s golf teams while also assisting with football.

How long have you been practicing as an AT?

I remember becoming interested in athletic training in high school. I am not athletic, but I love sports and love helping people, so this was the perfect career to be in. I became a Certified Athletic Trainer (AT) in 2007.

Describe your typical day:

My days are determined by a practice day or a game day. My team normally practices in the morning. So, I will arrive at work about 2-3 hours prior to practice time. This gives me time to make my to-do list for the day, set up coolers for practice, set my taping station up and get the team taped and ready for practice.

After practice, I treat injuries and work with athletes on rehabilitation of injuries. After that is complete, I spend my afternoon working on my administrative work. My current administration responsibilities include immediate supervisor for graduate assistant ATs covering women’s soccer and softball, facility management, drug testing, keeping inventory and ordering supplies. I try to complete my to-do list before I leave to go home for the day.

On gamedays I complete my treatment, rehab and administrative duties in the mornings then prepare for the game in the afternoon. Though these are typical days , it is rare to have the same day twice, which is one of the things I love about this position.

What do you like about your position?

No day is the same. Working with so many athletes I never know what type of day I’m going to have. It keeps the job exciting and keeps me on my toes. At the end of the day I’ve helped an patient get better, no matter what challenge is presented to me.That is a reward every day. I also like sharing my knowledge with the young ATs that come in as graduate assistants for our program. Even though I have great knowledge, I am always learning. I learn new things from their young innovative minds also.

What is your greatest achievement as an Athletic Trainer?

My greatest achievement is the respect I have of my fellow ATs. We essentially all have the same responsibility of our patients’ healthcare. To know that there are ATs that have been in this position longer than I have but respect me and feel that I am good at my job is a big accomplishment.

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

Networking is important. Even though we receive resumes and applications when we have open positions, we usually will contact someone we know and ask who they recommend.

Also, as a young AT remember you never know who is watching you and what lasting impression you will leave on a patient, coach, parent, referee or fan. That person could be or know your next boss.

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