Athletic Trainers: How I Impact Health Care Through Action
Posted on 3/30/2020
Each March, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) celebrates National Athletic Training Month. This year’s slogan is “ATs Impact Health Care Through Action.”
Since I became a certified athletic trainer in 1995, I am often posed the question “Why did you choose this profession?” Many times my answer is not only an expression of my own feelings, but a compilation of answers I have heard from the number of interviews I have conducted through my position as regional coordinator for sports medicine.
As many athletic trainers have, I came from an athletic background. I enjoyed success as a high school athlete, but I was not gifted enough or provided the opportunity to take my talents to the next level. However, my friend invited me to a college career fair at the local university, and a window of opportunity presented itself to me when I learned about athletic training. Following that career fair, I knew this profession would impact me for the rest of my life. I had found a profession that would allow me to maintain my appetite for sports: the competitiveness, the excitement of game day, the ability to be part of a team and, most importantly, the ability to impact every athlete through my actions as a health care provider.
Oftentimes during the interview process, I hear the response from candidates that the reason they became an athletic trainer was because of the effect their athletic trainer had on them. Whether they sustained an injury in high school or college, they were impacted by their athletic trainer and this profession. No matter the response they give, all athletic trainers possess a number of similar traits, including the innate need to help others.
Our ability to walk side-by-side with an athlete through their journey from training, prevention, performance, injury, treatment, recovery and return to play is the most unique in the health care field (though I may be biased). As an athletic trainer, our collaboration with all facets of the health care spectrum are unmatched.
On any given day, we communicate with coaches, parents, school nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical therapists, family medical physicians and orthopedic physicians to assist just one athlete. Athletic trainers also impact our workforce community by providing services to industrial athletes in manufacturing, police, fire and rescue, tactical, performing arts, transportation and aerospace, hospital and retail settings. We communicate with their employers, case managers, payers and insurers to help with return to work. In all that we do, our one common goal is to provide quality health care and safety for each athlete, patient and worker we care for.
For the past 25 years, I have been employed as an athletic trainer, 18 of them for Select Physical Therapy. As a certified and licensed health care professional, my job encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. I have been on the sidelines for high school, collegiate and professional sports. I have witnessed state championship games, national championship games and individual titles. I have worked in a major automobile factory providing care for employees responsible for assembling the doors on your car or truck. Most recently, I have been given the opportunity to educate, support and mentor other athletic trainers in the field.
I do what I do because, at the end of each day, I can look back on my work and feel the value and positive effect I have had on an individual’s health, well-being and ability to do what is important to them in that moment – impacting their health care through my actions. What could possibly be better than that?
By: Perry Siegel, M.S., ATC, CSCS, regional sports medicine coordinator for Select Physical Therapy in Connecticut.