In-Depth Look: Athletic Trainer in an Orthopaedic Clinic

Posted February 3, 2016

Joe Cygan, MS, ATC, OTC, RMSK is a Clinic Coordinator for an orthopaedic clinic.  In this role, he works as an Athletic Trainer (AT) and extends the services of the physician in an orthopaedic clinic.

Describe your setting:

I am a Clinic Coordinator and work as an AT for Dr. Peter Millett at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.  The Steadman Clinic delivers orthopaedic care whether the patient is an injured professional athlete or just wants to be able to walk again without pain.  The clinic specializes in knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, hand, spine, foot and ankle injuries.

How long have you worked in this setting?

I have worked in this setting for 3 years.

Describe your typical day:

I usually arrive around 7:00am or7:30am and begin preparing for clinic or surgery.  This typically involves reviewing the patients for the day and making sure we have all notes and images we need for their visit.  If we are having a clinical day, we usually start by seeing the patients who had surgery the prior day either in physical therapy or in the hospital to make sure they are ready to go home.  We then start clinic around 8:30am.

My main responsibilities include seeing the patients initially, formulating a differential diagnosis for new patients and determining how surgical patients are recovering from their surgery.  I then go in with Dr. Millett and see the patient and coordinate any follow-up care the patient may need, including MRI, labs or surgery.  We also have another AT and 2 Physician Assistants (PAs) who do the same thing.  We typically see 30 to 40 patients per day.  At the end of the day, I make sure there are no outstanding issues such as MRI authorizations, patient phone questions and missing notes.   After that, I dictate about all of the patients I saw that day.

On surgical days, I get in about the same time and help make sure we are ready for all of our cases for the day.  We typically do 7 to 10 cases a day.  We make sure the patients know what procedure we are performing and that they are comfortable with the procedure.  We also go over post-operative pain management medications to make sure there are no contraindications to the medications.  I then either scrub in and act as a first assistant in surgery or I stay in clinic and catch up on paperwork.  That way I’m available for patients who call in with questions or concerns.

What do you like about your position?

I like being on a team of healthcare professionals who include orthopedic surgeons, PAs and ATs.  I also enjoy that we have a fellowship program for both ATs and physicians, with whom we can exchange knowledge.

What do you dislike about your position?

The insurance industry is getting harder and harder to get approval from in a timely manner.  As a clinic, we try to get patients everything they need within 24 hours. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always see it that way.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?

I would advise young ATs to get some experience prior to coming to this setting.  This is still a relatively new setting and role for our profession.  We need to be very knowledgeable of injuries and be able to diagnose independently and confidently.

 


Think Twice before You Soak up the Sun

Posted January 29, 2016

Erin Chapman
MS, LAT, ATC

By Erin Chapman, MS, LAT, ATC

Growing up in the North Country of New York state, the sun was often hidden behind the clouds throughout the winter months.  Therefore, during the summer months when the sun was out, I spent a lot of time soaking up the warm rays.  I did not have a care in the world except that I wanted a nice tan.   Even though my mother consistently reminded me to use sunscreen and wear a hat to shield my face from the sun, I did not realize I was causing damage to my skin.

In the spring of 2013, I went to the dermatologist for a full body scan.  I have an olive complexion laced with a large number of moles.  During the appointment, the physician removed 2 suspicious moles that were sent to the lab for testing.  The results identified that the mole removed from my calf was a spitz nevus.  A spitz nevus is an uncommon, benign and melanocytic nevus that is usually acquired.  It has histologic features that overlap with melanoma.  The physician determined, that due to my family’s history of skin cancer, the nevus should be removed to reduce my chance of developing melanoma.  During this time, I realized how important it is for me to protect myself from the sun and to maintain healthy skin for my overall well-being.

As an Athletic Trainer (AT) in the collegiate setting, I spend a lot of time in the sun.  Since my diagnosis and treatment in 2013, I am more cautious and aware of the amount of sun exposure I receive.  I wear sunscreen daily, sunglasses and a hat to help protect my skin from the harmful rays of sun.  I also scan my skin for atypical moles, and I have yearly body scans by my dermatologist.

Here are some easy tips to follow to reduce your risks from the damaging effects of sun exposure:

Apply sunscreen. When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing.  Reapply approximately every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating.  Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30.  Use these tips when selecting a sunscreen.

Use 1 ounce of sunscreen. Apply an amount that is about equal to the size of your palm. Thoroughly rub the product into the skin. Don’t forget the top of your feet, your neck, ears and the top of your head.

Seek shade. Remember the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.

Protect your skin with clothing. When going outside wear a long‐sleeved shirt, pants, a wide‐brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Use extra caution near water, sand or snow. These surfaces reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of getting sunburned.

Get vitamin D safely. Eat a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, or take vitamin D supplements.  Do not seek out the sun.

If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product. Even with the use of self-tanning products, you need to continue to use sunscreen.  Don’t use tanning beds.  Just like the sun, UV light from tanning beds can cause your skin to wrinkle, develop age spots and lead to skin cancer.

Check your skin for signs of skin cancer. Your birthday is a great time to check your birthday suit.  Checking your skin and knowing your moles is key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.

If you spot anything changing, growing or bleeding, see your dermatologist.

I hope that sharing my story will help others protect themselves from sun exposure and check their skin for potential signs of skin cancer.

https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/general-skin-care/sun-protection

About the Author

Erin Chapman started working for The College at Brockport as an Athletic Trainer (AT) in March of 2010.  She completed her bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training/Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 2007, and her master’s degree in Human Movement at A.T. Still University in 2009.  She is working toward a doctorate in Athletic Training at the University of Idaho.  Chapman's research interests are in breathing pattern disorders in the physically active population and concussion education in intercollegiate athletics.


As an AT, Chapman assists Golden Eagles athletes by working with field hockey; men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field; and men’s lacrosse. Prior to working for The College at Brockport, Erin spent two-and-a-half years as the Head AT and biology teacher at the Winchendon School in Winchendon, Massachusetts.  Chapman is a BOC Certified AT and licensed in New York state.


National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week - Educate Your Athletes on the Dangers of Addiction

Posted January 28, 2016

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week takes place January 25 through January 31, and aims to shatter the myths about drug and alcohol abuse.  In 2010, this week was launched by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to stimulate educational events so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction.  In 2016, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism became a partner to incorporate the focus of alcoholism as well.

Throughout the nation, communities and schools host events to show the effects drugs and alcohol have on the brain, body and behavior.  The information not only focuses on illegal drugs, but also drugs that are more accessible to teens, such as nicotine, alcohol, prescription pills and even cough syrup.  Students are educated on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse/misuse and resources on how to get help overcoming addiction.

For Athletic Trainers (ATs), this awareness week is a great opportunity to educate your athletes on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.  Choose topics that are relevant to athletes like the dangers of using illegal performance enhancement drugs or the risks of abusing prescription medication when recovering from an injury.  Athletes should even be cautioned about the danger of abusing alcohol or drugs when celebrating a victory.

Take time and be aware of the signs that a person may be developing a drug or alcohol use problem:

- Hanging out with different friends

- Getting worse grades or negative performance feedback

- Frequently missing classes or work

- Getting in trouble in school, on the job or with the law

- Having different eating or sleeping habits

While most of the educational handouts are geared towards parents, there are several tips that ATs can implement in the athletic training facility if you suspect an athlete is suffering from alcohol or drug dependence.

- Show understanding, interest and concern. Don’t blame and accuse

- Stay CALM

C—Control your thoughts and your actions

A—Assess and decide if you are too upset to continue

L—Leave the situation if you are feeling too angry or upset

M—Make a plan to deal with the situation within 24 hours

- Don’t place blame or put the other person down

For more information on events near you or educational handouts to pass out, visit https://teens.drugabuse.gov.

 


Advice to Young Professionals - How to Promote Yourself as an Athletic Trainer

Erin Chapman
MS, LAT, ATC

Posted January 21, 2016

By Erin Chapman, MS, LAT, ATC

Young athletic training professionals are entering a new stage of the profession.  Athletic training is a relatively young profession that is continually growing and adapting to meet the demands of the healthcare environment.

As Athletic Trainers (ATs) are employed in hospitals, industrial settings and other environments and more widely used in secondary schools, we will be asked questions about our profession.  As young professionals it is important we promote what we do in a positive light and educate those around us.  For example, we should not get upset or hold a grudge if someone misidentifies our profession by calling us a trainer or personal trainer.

Through education and positive promotion of what an AT does, we can change a person’s understanding of the profession and the importance of ATs’ presence in different clinical settings.  I have this discussion a lot with my peers and like to think I do a good job of promoting athletic training as a profession and myself as a professional in this field.

Here are some tips for other ATs and athletic training students as they transition into the profession:

1. Positive conversations: Concentrate on our strengths as a profession rather than the negatives.  Discuss the educational process ATs go through and what we are capable of doing rather than what we are unable to do.

2. Discuss education and state practice requirements: Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the Board of Certification (BOC) and state certification/licensure are huge strengths for our profession.

3. Professional mentors and connections: Seek out someone who will mentor you as you grow in your career.  Network with other ATs to keep current and informed.

4. Public speaking: Take opportunities when possible to promote yourself and the profession.  When speaking in public, use positive promotion through clear and focused thoughts to convey your points on different topics to your audience.  How you speak and the tone of your delivery is very important so you sound professional.

5. Be cautious of social media: I did not grow up in this profession with all of the social media that is currently available to connect with friends, family and co-workers.  Facebook, Twitter and other platforms can be very helpful in spreading positive information but also can be damaging if negative material is posted.

6. Continuing education: Just because you are a Certified Athletic Trainer does not mean you should stop learning or only attend events for continuing education units (CEUs).  Yes, we need CEUs to keep our certification current, but to evolve as a practitioner, you need to attend courses and symposiums you can immediately implement into your clinical practice.  Determine your goals and find courses that fit within those goals to improve your patient care. Being versed in different assessment and treatment paradigms will make you more marketable when looking for your first job or even a new one.

7. Mindfulness: This is something new to my list, and I am still learning how to be mindful in each aspect of my professional and personal life.  The purpose of mindfulness is to live from moment-to-moment without judgment.  Through this practice you learn to stay present and focused during each patient interaction.  This allows the patient to express their concerns while allowing you to remain empathetic and provide evidence-based, medical and scientific knowledge to their assessment and treatment.

The list above is something I have used to focus my goals as well as to educate future ATs.  I am sure there are other components that can be used to promote yourself as a healthcare professional, but this can be used as your initial guide.  As you grow as a professional you can add to the list and share with others.  Be proud of being an AT and demonstrate enthusiasm in a professional manner for your chosen career.

About the Author

Erin Chapman started working for The College at Brockport as an Athletic Trainer (AT) in March of 2010.  She completed her bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training/Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 2007, and her master’s degree in Human Movement at A.T. Still University in 2009.  She is working toward a doctorate in Athletic Training at the University of Idaho.  Chapman's research interests are in breathing pattern disorders in the physically active population and concussion education in intercollegiate athletics. 

As an AT, Chapman assists Golden Eagles athletes by working with field hockey; men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field; and men’s lacrosse. Prior to working for The College at Brockport, Erin spent two-and-a-half years as the Head AT and biology teacher at the Winchendon School in Winchendon, Massachusetts.  Chapman is a BOC Certified AT and licensed in New York state.



In-Depth Look: Meet the Head Athletic Trainer for the NFL Denver Broncos

Stephen L. Antonopulos, ATC is the Head Athletic Trainer (AT) for the Denver Broncos Football Club.  His is responsible for the medical services for as many as 90 potential football players, coaches and organizational staff.

Describe Setting:  

My setting is with the Denver Broncos Football Club.  We have 2 main team physicians: one orthopedic physician, who is our main team physician, and one internal medicine team physician.  Approximately 25 consultants who work with us as well.  We also have a variety of other staff, including 2 massage therapists and 3 chiropractors.  I am the head AT and have 4 full time AT assistants.  In addition, we have 2 seasonal athletic training interns who work with us each day during the organized team activities (OTAs), summer camp and the season.  During summer camp, we employ 4 additional students from colleges around the United States.

How long have I worked in this setting?

I am starting my 40th season with the Denver Broncos.  I spent 4 years as an Assistant AT before being named the Director of Rehabilitation.  I have spent the last 35 years as the Head AT.

Describe a Typical Day? 

A typical day for me starts at 4:00am.  I am an early person, and I learned years ago I need some time by myself before anyone gets here.  I use the time to work out and do administrative tasks.

The players arrive for treatment at 6:30 am, and the player meetings start around 8:15am.  We have long-term rehabs while players are in meetings.  That way, we are either working with them or doing administrative work.  Practice is from 11:30am to1:30pm.  From 1:30am to 3:00pm we work on post practice treatments.  There is another player meeting from 3:00pm to 4:00pm.  Post practice treatments follow until we are done at approximately 6:00pm.

What do you like about your position?

I can honestly say in 40 years, I have never had a day that I dreaded coming to work.  I love my job.  I work for a great organization that cares about people.  I love caring for people.  I love the relationships I have developed over the years.  I love being around young people who keep me young.  I love the challenges that are presented each day.  I love the energy required to survive in this game.  I have spent over half of my life working for the Denver Broncos, and I love the Denver Broncos! 

What do you dislike about your position?

The worst part of the job is seeing players devastated by being injured.  It is their livelihood, and it hurts to see them be injured and not be able to perform.

What advice do you have for a young AT looking at this practice setting? 

There are very few positions in athletic training at the professional football level.  The positions are hard to come by and everyone wants to be here.

When I was a kid, I use to watch the Broncos on TV with my father.  I said that somehow or someway I was going to work for the Denver Broncos someday.  I am living a dream.  Of course, you don’t just decide to live a dream and it happens.  To me, prospective ATs have to consider 4 things.

1. You have the passion to do it.  If you don’t have passion, you are in the wrong field.

2. You have to be of great character.

3. You have to have great work ethic!

4. You have to have an opportunity.  Sometimes those opportunities fall in your lap. Other times you have to make the opportunity.

We have internships in our program.  I can honestly say those internships are job interviews.  All the individuals on my staff are former interns.  They all showed the passion, character and work ethic that is required.  In addition, I like my assistants to have a graduate degree.

This is a positive environment, and I require positive people.  Most of all, I encourage you to not be in a hurry to get to the top.  It takes passion, character and hard work to get there.  That does not happen overnight.

 


U.S. Soccer's Recognize to Recover Program

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

U.S. Soccer has made significant changes over the past few months with their Recognize to Recover program.  Recognize to Recover is a comprehensive player health and safety program that strives to promote safer play in soccer, while reducing injuries.  While the main concern at the moment is reducing head injuries, other injuries are important as well.  There has been plenty of talk about the “no heading” announcement from U.S. Soccer, but there are many other important changes.  It is important to understand the initiative is required only for the U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams and the Development Academy, but it is recommended for all other soccer levels and organizations.

- Players under the age of 10 should not engage in heading, either in practice or in games.

- Players between the ages of 11-13 should have limited heading training, at a weekly maximum of 30 minutes and no more than 15-20 headers per player.

- All coaches should be instructed to teach and emphasize the proper techniques for heading the ball.

- If a player has a suspected concussion, the player may now be evaluated without penalty (substitution rules).

- Licensed coaches and referees hired through U.S. Soccer have to watch a video to review concussion information and protocols on a yearly basis.

- U.S Soccer will now require an Athletic Trainer (AT) to be present at all U.S. Soccer Development Academy home games (was only recommended in the past).

- In youth tournaments, it is recommended that multiple healthcare providers be employed and be in collaboration with each other on the emergency action plan.

- SCAT3 and Modified BESS testing will be used on the sideline for all concussion evaluations.

- If a player has been removed from play for a concussion assessment and has not been cleared by an AT, the player may not return to play.  If the player tries to return to the field, the referee should immediately stop play, direct the player to the side of the field and direct the coach to make a substitution.

- A coach will receive a warning from the referee is he/she tries to allow a player to return without being cleared from an AT.

Reference

http://www.ussoccer.com/about/federation-services/recognize-to-recover


January is National Blood Donor Month

By Brian Bradley, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS

Every 2 seconds someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion.  It takes a lot of blood to fulfill that need.  Although there is an average of 15.7 million donations a year, supply is still low.  It is estimated that 38% of the US population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10% actually does.  With the need for blood seemingly going up each year, it is vitally important for people to generously donate blood.

This January marks the 45th Annual National Blood Donor Month.  The month serves to recognize the life-saving contribution blood and platelet donors make to modern healthcare.  They try to increase awareness of the critical need for blood and help spotlight special donors who have made an impact.

If you are looking for ways to help, check out The American Red Cross (http://www.redcrossblood.org/) or One Blood (http://www.oneblood.org/about/big-red-bus.stml) to find the closest blood drive or donation center near you.  A blood drive is a great way to raise awareness and help an important cause at the same time.  If you are interested in hosting a blood drive at your school or place of work, The American Red Cross and One Blood are both great organizations to contact as well.

Facts about donation:

- Donors must be at least 17 years old

- Donors must weigh more than 110 pounds

- Blood can be donated every 56 days

- Platelets can be donated every 7 days (maximum of 24 times annually)

For more information on National Blood Donor Month please visit the following websites.

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Celebrates-National-Blood-Donor-Month

https://www.adrp.org/promoting-donation/natl-blood-donor-month/

 


International Day of People with Disability

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

December 3rd was International Day of People with Disability, which aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.  This year’s theme was, “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.”

The day focuses on how people with disability are often excluded from society.  The day works on promoting removal of all types of barriers, including those in the physical environment; attitudinal obstacles; and information and communication technology difficulties.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 1 billion people with disabilities who face detachment from many aspects of society, such as transportation, employment, education and political participation.  It is essential for us to focus on the ability, not the disability of an individual.  By doing this, people with disabilities will be able to participate in society equally.

The 3 subthemes this year were to make cities inclusive and accessible for all, improve disability data and statistics and include people with invisible disabilities in society and development.

1. Make cities inclusive and accessible for all.  Many cities have made changes to help included people with disabilities, but there is still significant work to be done.  It is recommended to use this day to ensure future cities and services are more environmentally accessible, user-friendly and inclusive for all people.

2. Improve disability data and statistics.  There is a lack of data on disability and the situation of people with disabilities.  This creates an issue in trying to help people with disabilities feel included in society; without an accurate number, it is difficult to create opportunities for assistance.  It is recommended to use this day to research good practices to help strengthen the disability data collection.

3. Include people with invisible disabilities in society and development.  These invisible disabilities include people with mental and psychosocial disabilities, intellectual disabilities and hearing impairments.  People with disabilities often face social stigma and discrimination, as well as physical and sexual abuse.  Due to the stigma, they are also at risk of exclusion from education and social activities.  It is recommended to use this day to identify good practices of inclusive education and organize awareness raising initiatives.

To learn more about the International Day of People with Disability and see how you can make a difference, visit:

http://www.idpwd.com.au

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1637

 


VIDEO: An inside look at the BOC exam

BOC staff members discuss key issues particularly relevant to students who are preparing for the BOC exam and certification. The presentation also includes questions from the students in the audience.

Check out and share the video for information on these topics and more:
• BOC partners
• Overview of the BOC exam
• BOC exam scoring
• Candidate resources
• Transitioning from a candidate to an AT
• Professional practice and responsibility

Enjoy the presentation. We hope it is useful to you!


I am Thankful to be an Athletic Trainer – Part 4

Editor’s Note: Being thankful and celebrating the good things in life are very much a part of this time of year.  As you celebrate the New Year, it’s important to look back and review your achievements and be proud of your accomplishments.  In this series, our BOC guest writers take a look back at their career as Athletic Trainers and share their stories on what makes them feel thankful to be in this profession. 

The Meaning of Life: My Journey as an Athletic Trainer

By Desi Rotenberg, MS, LAT, ATC

Throughout my life experiences, I have been searching for the meaning of life.  Throughout my journey, I have come across occurrences and situations that caused me to question my findings.  I have come to the conclusion the meaning of life is simple, yet incredibly difficult: the meaning of life is to help people.

I feel blessed every day that I fell into the athletic training field, because it showed me the purpose of what it means to be a member of the human race.  I could not really understand what was happening at the time, but in hindsight, my time as an Athletic Trainer (AT) has had a bigger impact than I could have ever imagined.

I have been a certified AT since 2012.  I have always had a strong connection to the rehabilitation aspect of sports medicine and was drawn to it when I accepted a position as a graduate assistant at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the campus recreation center.  My job was simple. I was responsible for the safety and well-being of recreational student athletes.

Over the course of 2 years, I took part in or was responsible for the rehabilitation of roughly 150 individuals who had suffered some type of injury that required them to miss time from their respective sports, or in some cases, activity altogether.  Being in the moment, I knew I was doing a service for these individuals, who would come to the athletic training facility for the free advice and amenities, but I was unaware of the impact my attention to these individuals would later have.

Fast forward 2 years and to the main topic of this editorial: an experience that makes me thankful to be an AT.  Rather than one experience, I have to mention several moments that both inspired me and brought a sense of eternal gratitude.  Several times since I graduated from UCF, I have had former patients contact me to thank me for everything I did for them.  I would be walking in the mall, or at the store, and a former patient would walk up to me, with a huge smile on their face and embrace me.  The energy and love I could feel were more than anything I can put into words.  It brought with it a sense of humility that my actions and words as an AT have impacted the lives of so many people.

Being contacted by these individuals also brings me a great sense of pride.  Proud of where I came from. Proud of where I am.  Proud of who I am.  Being an AT helped me uncover the meaning of life, which I believe is to help as many people as possible, and to make a positive impact in the lives of everyone we encounter, both in our professional and personal lives.

I cannot be thankful for one specific moment.  Rather my gratitude and thankfulness goes out to everyone who contributed to who I am as a professional and as a person.  This blog is dedicated to my teachers, professors, preceptors and peers at the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Central Florida, to all of the professional and personal relationships that have shaped me into the person that I am and to all of the professionals who have shared advice and knowledge with me.  And lastly, this blog is dedicated to all of the ATs out there, who commit themselves every single day to helping people in all avenues and who continue to move the world forward, by helping others achieve their full potential.