Nov 17, 2017
Put It In Writing
Larry Cooper

Over the past two years, I have traveled thousands of miles and spent hours presenting to each NATA District about the Secondary School Value Model. The opportunity to meet so many passionate athletic trainers from across the country was amazing, and the chance to promote and elevate our profession was humbling. I received some tremendous feedback, but I was asked even more questions. The questions I got the most were:

• How do I get started?

• What’s the easiest way that I can show my value?

The answer is simple, inexpensive, and not labor- or time-intensive: DOCUMENT.

Documentation comes in many forms and serves many purposes… Realistically, all you need [to get started] is a pencil and paper.

Documentation comes in many forms and serves many purposes. To get started, you won’t need dictation machines or an expensive electronic medical records program to be able to quantify your value. Realistically, all you need is a pencil and paper, but most of you are more advanced than that. For that reason, I will talk more about using a computer for documentation.

A spreadsheet of any kind can be utilized to set up a way of tracking visits, treatments, tapings, initial evaluations, etc. You can set it up as a daily sheet, however, I recommend a weekly sheet. Going week-by-week makes it easier to visualize trends, especially when you compare your stats with an activity calendar. This is a form of documentation that is useful for putting a dollar amount on your services.

It can also improve your daily SOAP notes, which have been a standard for decades in the athletic training profession. They can be a means to ensure a continuum of care, especially if there is more than one athletic trainer providing care in your facility, or can serve as a progress report to your attending physician.

If you are like most of us, there is rush hour in the athletic training room immediately after school lets out and before the start of events and practices. Once your evening is over, or whenever you go back to the athletic training facility to close up, you can refer back to your spreadsheet to make sure that you didn’t forget any treatments or new injuries that were seen that day when compiling your SOAP notes.

A third benefit to documentation is hopefully one you don’t encounter too often. It can be extremely beneficial to have if you would be involved in any litigation or if your insurance company questions a claim.

The NATA Board of Directors (BOD) feels so strongly about the need to document that they formed a Best Practices Guidelines for Athletic Training Documentation Taskforce. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this taskforce. The BOD recently approved the final draft, and it was made available to members in September. I highly recommend that you go to the NATA website and check it out. There is something for everyone, even those who are seasoned veterans.

Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC, is Head Athletic Trainer at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa., where he also teaches health, physical education, and sports medicine classes. Since 2012, he has served as Chair of the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers' Committee. Winner of a 2016 NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, 2015 T&C Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, and 2014 NATA Athletic Training Service Award, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society Hall of Fame in 2014. Cooper can be reached at: [email protected].

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