What is stopping you, Overwhelmed?

12 Feb

The best thing about the playoffs in high school sports is getting to go to another school and having the chance to speak with another AT.  Last night, our girls’ basketball team played a conference championship tie breaker at a neutral site.  Not only was the host sites’ AT in attendance, so was the opposing team’s AT.  It was a rare chance to see 2 other ATs and sit and talk.  It is always refreshing and invigorating to be able to talk to other ATs.

When ATs get together, we always talk about coaches, athletes, working nights and weekends, etc.  There are always stories that just make you shake your head or roll your eyes at the antics that always go on in high school sports.  It is one of the aspects of athletic training that makes the job so interesting and so much fun.

But often, ATs conversation turn to the “State of the Union”.  How is athletic training doing as a profession?  We talk about schools that don’t have athletic training services; we talk about why only 42% of schools in the country have AT services; we talk about how anyone in today’s day and age don’t see the worth of an AT in the secondary school; we talk about all kinds of topics related to sports and sports medicine.

I often feel overwhelmed with the whole thing.  I know the worth of an AT; I know what value the AT brings the schools’ athletes; I understand that ATs cost money, but I also KNOW that it is easy for a school to see a return on the investment.  BUT, it is overwhelming to know that a thousands and thousands of schools in this country to know or understand our worth!

The recent article written by a “columnist” in PA tells me we still have so much work to do.  Keep in mind that PA has the highest number of ATs than any other state – over 3,000 ATCs.  PA has the greatest number of ATEP accredited programs in the US, we have 20 programs for students to choose from including a new entry level Masters degree program!  PA also has a strong Athletic Training Law on the books.  While the rest of the country has 42% of high schools offering AT services, PA has an 85% rate!  The 15% of schools that don’t provide AT services, a vast majority of those schools are small, private Christian schools with less than 100 students in 9-12th grades.  In my opinion, PA is a model state for other state athletic associations to emulate.  Our high school sports are very professionally run and the athletes have access to well run athletic programs, good coaches, good fan support, great facilities and outstanding athletic health care.

But even with all that we do right, we still have a “columnist” in one of our major cities who writes not one, but two derogatory columns aimed at our profession!  Even after a prominent State Senator wrote a great defense of his bill AND defended the use of athletic trainers in the line of defense for the care of concussions and even after the PATS President eloquently wrote a professional response outlining our demanding education and certification process, the author still has a negative view of our profession.

So, it can seem overwhelming to say the least to be constantly fighting the battle of a positive image to the public we serve!  But our success has always come with sacrifice.

It is not easy to become an ATC, ATEP programs require a tough academic load AND hundreds of hours in the training room experiencing the profession.  The NATA BOC reports that fewer than 45% of the candidates for the BOC exam passed the test on the first try!  Many in the NATA are advocating that entry level minimum education be upgraded to a masters degree because the 4 year degree just isn’t enough time to learn all that is need to learn.  Our AT forefathers fought for years for educational standards, state laws, better working conditions, more staffing positions, etc.  I point this out to show that every single ATC has given up a lot to become an ATC.  Not everyone is cut out to do what we do.

Keep fighting the fight, we are gaining!

Keep doing right, it will pay off!

Keep toiling away serving the athletes in your own training room, people do notice even though they don’t articulate their appreciation.

Keep the faith, don’t become overwhelmed!

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