How to Promote the Profession – The Internet

6 May

Throughout this blog, I have written my opinions on why an AT should be at every high school in the US, but this blog is too small a forum to accomplish that goal.  What it will take to achieve that level of care for all high school athletes is a collective effort by thousands of ATs across the country to promote the profession.  This series of blog entries will seek to give ideas to the AT on real life ways that they can also promote the profession.

The Internet

I am old enough to remember life without computers or the internet.  I have witnessed the growth and the changes to media, information exchange, entertainment and social interaction.  The internet is a powerful thing that is constantly advancing and changing.  There has never been a better time to find information, share information or interact with people than today.  That is until tomorrow!  The internet is an incredibly powerful tool to reach and interact with people and promote the profession of athletic training.  Blogs, personal websites, forums, news articles and email are all effective means to market yourself and athletic training.

Blogs are today what was yesterday’s newspaper editorial page.  The great advantage is that a blog doesn’t need to be screened through the newspaper editor.  Additionally, few editorial comments made it through the editing process and were actually printed.  Now, you can simply chose to write a blog.  Many of my favorite blogs are listed in the right hand column of this very blog.  I must give a shout out to The Concussion Blog and Dustin Fink for the incredible work he is doing on his blog.  The blog is an incredible example of professionalism in athletic training.

Personal or departmental websites are also a great way to promote athletic training, demonstrate professionalism and distribute information.  If you are an AT with a college or high school, you probably should have a website.  I am in the process of developing mine for the school district.  The website should promote the qualifications, education, national certification and state certification/licensure that you must have.  The website should also have important forms, policies, training room rules, pictures of the training room, etc. for athletes and parents to find and use.  Your administration should be very supportive of your desire to add a webpage to the school’s website as it promotes their own school and professionalism also.

Forums are a way for people to interact with each other. The NATA Think Tanks is a great forum for ATs to ask questions, raise awareness of an issue, give advice, get advice, etc.  There are hundreds of forums all through the internet.  Act professionally, write intelligently and you can effectively promote the profession through these forums.

Today’s newspapers are finding they must go on the internet to stay in business.  News articles are now printed and published on the web.  The great advantage with publishing on the web is two fold.  First, this gives small town newspapers a national voice, anyone anywhere in the country can read their paper.  Secondly, many newspaper articles have the option for comments.  Remember the article degrading the education and expertize of ATs written by Paul Carpenter of the Allentown Morning Call?  Hundreds of ATs from across the country commented on that article.  This blog often highlights news articles of interest to athletic training and there are often comments in the comments section from ATs or about ATs.  If you have the opportunity, write a professional, intelligent comment in the comment section of a news article as needed.

Email is becoming extinct on the personal level as people are more and more using social media websites (i.e. Facebook) to personally interact with friends and family.  But on the professional level, my opinion that it is the opposite; more and more people are interacting with their colleagues through email than through other traditional means (i.e. face to face, phone call).  For ATs, email can be a very valuable resource IF you have email addresses.  A couple of years ago, I compiled a list of all the high school ATs within the region of PA where I work.  This list has grown and grown and become a very valuable document to all the ATs in the area.  It now is a list of 170 ATs with all their email address, phone numbers, schools, etc.  If a visiting athlete gets hurt at my school, I will email or call that AT and give them an injury report.  This list promotes the profession by increasing the professional interaction between ATs and schools.  The athletes and coaches notice this interaction and collectively our reputation has increased in the general community.

The best part of most of the ideas presented in this blog entry is that most of these ideas are free or very cheap.  Blogs are free; email is free; adding a few pages to the school website is free; participating in most forums is free.  All it takes is a little time and effort on your part!

Now, go promote the profession!

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