Jul 13, 2018
Make a Connection
Ken Takenaka

Developing relationships with orthopedic surgeons is one of the more daunting tasks for an athletic trainer who wants to work in the operating room. At times, it may seem like they are too busy to be bothered.

However, in my experience, I have found that many orthopedic surgeons are more than happy to help with the development and education of medical professionals who take an interest in the field. Regardless of setting, the keys to a successful relationship with a surgeon are always professionalism, clear and concise communication, and an understanding of what details are important to relay to them.

To get started, contact a surgeon you have worked with in the past — perhaps a team orthopedist. Ask if you could shadow them in the clinic or operating room. Be professional and courteous. I think you will be surprised to find that many would love to establish a relationship with you.

You can also use this opportunity to educate the surgeon about the full skill set of the athletic trainer, as many are not aware that we can assist in surgery. Explaining this can help open doors and create conversations. Ask an athletic trainer who has experience working with a surgeon what types of information might make them stop and say, “Maybe an athletic trainer could really help my practice.”

This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of Training & Conditioning.

Ken Takenaka, MEd, ATC, OTC, is Athletic Training Manager and Surgical First Assist at Orthopedic + Fracture Specialists in Portland, Ore. He is the former Oregon state representative for the Northwest Athletic Trainers' Association's Young Professionals Committee. Takenaka can be reached at: [email protected]

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