Year One Down, Many to Go!

December 28, 2011

Many people that I know have always said you learn way more in that first year out of school than you did when you were in school. Obviously I had to learn plenty in college or I never would have passed the BOC exam and be in the position I am today. That said, I would agree that this first year has been quite a journey and one that want to share with all of you today.

December 31, 2010 I officially become a Certified Athletic Trainer through the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers (BOC) and licensed by the State of Illinois on January 5, 2011. This is all a result of passing the BOC exam in November, 2010 and graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in Health Management: Athletic Training from Southeast Missouri State University in December, 2010. I have taken a position at a local PT clinic with responsibilities sending me to a local high school as one part of my job while I also split my time in clinic and fitness centers.

As far as rehab goes, I really have no idea where to start! I felt like coming out of college this was going to be a weakness of mine just because I didn’t have a lot of experience actually designing and running rehabs. I understand lots of exercises and am able to use modalities for the most part, but actually planning them not so much. I think that has significantly improved as I’ve spent time this year working almost daily in physical therapy and take the opportunity to learn. Also, I think some of it is simply a matter of trying something and seeing if it works!

One specific part of rehabilitation that I have learned this year is the Graston Technique. I previously viewed massage and other forms of manual therapy to be mostly wasted time that I could have spent doing therapeutic exercise! Since completing the Graston training in July, I have completely taken a new mindset and use the technique often. After taking the course, I really liked it and saw the benefits. Then, this fall I had an athlete who was suffering from significant ITB Friction Syndrome. 5 Graston treatments over a course of a month nearly eliminated it and she missed no time from volleyball! Now I’m really sold on the Graston Technique and its uses!

Take a break and breathe. Things tend to fall into place. I have worked hard to relax more and let things go as they may. I don’t stress out about little things and I don’t stress out about injuries. If a player misses a game, then they miss a game. The team has to find a way to work around that and if I’ve done my best to prevent it, there’s nothing else that is going to change it!

Knowing what is an emergency and what is not is the last thing I’ll take from this year I think. I had a pretty good handle on that previously, but now it has been a matter of practically knowing what needs to be sent and what can wait. Also, I am more able to identify more specific injuries which has allowed me to dictate that better.

In September I had an incident that I have prepared for since the start. The dreaded athlete-down situation with complaints of neck pain and radicular symptoms. I’ve been through this once before when I was nearly “on my own” during my internship. That situation was largely dictated by a supervisor after the initial evaluation and it turns out we took precautions and did not have the “worst” happen. This time, I was truly on my own being THE healthcare provider responsible and I feel like I excelled! I was able to effectively coordinate care and communicate to provide the very best care we could for that student-athlete. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I got word from the coach with regards to the severity of the injury. Take-away lesson here: Take precautions even when we think they are “silly” because you never know.

That first year as a Certified Athletic Trainer was quite a ride! But I wake up every day getting to do the thing I love. I work with athletes, patients, and fitness members to help them improve their lives. I get to interact with coaches, administrators, parents, and the athletes themselves. It has been a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see what comes in year 2!

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