Apr 26, 2017Speaking from Experience
This month, I was asked to write about what I thought it takes to be successful in the secondary school setting as an athletic trainer. While I am certainly not an expert in this field, I have had some time to think about what might translate into success. The following are some of my observations, thoughts, and opinions, but it’s certainly not an all-inclusive list. These bullets can be viewed as strategies or behaviors that might increase your chances of a positive, lengthy career at the high school level. Keep in mind, however, that every job has different circumstances, and these tips might not apply across the board.
Stay true to yourself:
- In your injury evaluations.
- In your dealings with coaches, parents, athletes, and administrators.
- Even when it is the toughest thing you have ever done.
- Don’t compromise your personal or professional ethics and morals.
- Do things for the right reason.
Understand that you are a role model from day one:
- Athletes hang on to what you tell them.
- Even when you are not at work.
- Don’t be afraid or intimidated by this.
- Understand what that means.
- Use it to your advantage.
Believe what you do truly makes a difference:
- You care, maybe more than anyone besides the athlete’s parents.
- You might be the athlete’s only advocate.
- You are a constant every season.
- You are a calming voice.
- You are the health care professional.
Don’t overestimate or underestimate your value:
- Just know that you are valuable, needed, and respected.
- Change with the seasons.
- Be willing to try new treatments or rehab methods.
- Pick the brains of local athletic trainers and physicians.
- Step back once in awhile to see what is working and what isn’t.
- Watch how other athletic trainers handle situations.
- Know when you should dig your heels in.
Step away once in a while:
- From work.
- From sports.
- From routine.
- Sounding board.
- Rule changes.
- Dealing with difficult coaches, parents, or athletes.
Use your resources:
- Develop a network of fellow athletic trainers.
- Start a directory of athletic trainers in your section, league, district, etc.
- Know your NATA District officers and committee members.
- Know your state leaders and committee chairs.
- Know your NATA officers, leaders, and committee people.
- Read the eBlasts, newsletters, settings blogs, and NATA News.
- Know your school board members.
- Know the influential stakeholders in your community.
- Read blogs from fellow athletic trainers.
Find a hobby:
- It will stimulate your brain.
- It will recharge your brain and body.
- It will change your perspective.
- It will keep the fire within burning brighter and longer.
Don’t be afraid:
- Of not knowing something.
- Of new injuries.
- Of new coaches.
- Of new administrators.
- Of new responsibilities.
- To develop a filter.
- With parents.
- With coaches.
- With teachers.
- With the school nurse.
- With fellow athletic trainers.
- With local physicians.
- With administrators.
Understand that the job:
- Will not be a bed of roses every day.
- Is what you make of it.
- Is the best job in the world.
- Is an opportunity to put your signature on something very special.
- In the community.
- In the school.
- In the athletic arenas.
- Your coaches.
- Your administrators.
- Your physicians.
- Your athletes.
- Between true injuries and social hour injuries.
- Between participants and team members.
- Between allies and enemies.
- Yourself as a constant figure in your school and community.
- At work.
- At home.
- With teams.
Document and keep detailed records and statistics:
- Injury trends.
- Prove your position.
- Justify or increase your budget.
- Show your value.
- Increase staffing.
- Increase the size of your facility.
Show your value:
- Share collected information with staff, administrators, and school board members.
Brag but don’t boast:
- Have a five-minute elevator speech ready.
- The 5 P’s: Prior preparation prevents poor performance.
- You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
- Don’t forget where you came from.
- I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
- To have fun. Don’t worry if your job is small and your rewards are few; remember that the mighty oak was once a nut like you.