Jan 29, 2015
Young Professionals Committee Roundtable

Outgoing NATA President Chuck Kimmel headlined the NATA’s Young Professional Committee’s two-hour roundtable that tackled current issues facing new and younger athletic trainers in the industry. Among the topics were: preventing burnout, quality vs. quantity in an internship, the push for thesis paths at the Master’s level, and feelings of disconnect within the field.

To help prevent burnout, all panelists agreed that time management and developing hobbies outside sports have been key to their interest inside sports. Athletic training, they said, is not a “9 to 5 job” so it is easy for young athletic trainers to become absorbed in their careers and neglect the outside world. The panelists also noted younger athletic trainers are more likely to overwork themselves because they do not want older peers or administrators to second guess the younger ATCs’ levels of commitment or willingness to meet expectations or face challenges. Fears of losing professional standings within the field, or worse, their jobs are also reasons why new athletic trainers tend to overwork themselves.

Taking personal time is not a sign of weakness, said the panelist, rather it provides much needed mental breaks to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In addition, personal time allows an ATC to re-engage within his or her environment at an entirely different level, often resulting in new knowledge being introduced to the training room.

The next issues heavily discussed internship hours, grassroots recruiting, and tips for reconnecting. It was unanimously agreed that while having 2,000 hours of internship under one’s belt may look good on a resume, it doesn’t guarantee a student athletic trainer will see as many “great” sport injuries as the student athletic trainer whom practices 20 hours a week in a clinical setting. Furthermore, the push for greater hours interning often leads to higher burnout rates later on and deters young adults from entering the field.

To battle disconnect and encourage professional standings, the panelists offered some tips:

  1. Be confident in your education and role as an athletic trainer. There is tremendous value in the wealth of knowledge ATCs provide athletic teams – and there is a tremendous wealth of assets ATCs can provide athletic teams because they can perform the jobs of physical therapists, sports dieticians, and strength and conditioning coaches.
  2. Get involved with district meetings. Whether its to network or add a voice to an issue concerning the field, the more people you get to know, the better off you are to finding a solution.
  3. Work with other professionals to establish an understanding of each other’s role in the health and safety of athletes as well as develop policies that ensure the athletes’ health always comes first.

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