Describe your setting:
I am the Program Coordinator for the Sports Medicine Program at The Nebraska Medical Center (TNMC). This is a new program and a new position for the hospital. The Nebraska Medical Center is a separate entity from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), but the two work closely together. TNMC serves as the teaching hospital for the UNMC medical students.
How long have you worked in this setting?
I’ve worked in this setting for 12 months now. Prior to coming here, I was the Head Athletic Trainer (AT) at a Division I institution, and I spent 16 out of 18 years practicing as an AT in the college/university setting. This has been quite a change for me.
Describe your typical day:
As I indicated, this is a new position and thus far, I don’t know that two days have been the same . . . so I’m not sure that I can really identify what a typical day is. When starting a new program, everything is constantly evolving and growing, making each day a new and dynamic experience.
As opposed to my past positions that have been saturated with patient care and student interaction from the start to the finish of each day, this position (at least for now) is more administrative. My time has been spent developing the program with very little direct patient care. Fortunately, we do provide medical coverage for various events that come into Omaha, and I am able to provide athletic training services for these patients.
What do you like about your position?
At this point, I really like the fact that each day is different. There certainly are some constants, but again because of the newness of the position I never quite know what to expect. The breadth and diversity of people that I work with is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. When I was at the university, I was completely focused on 350 student athletes. In this position, I don’t have the finite and captive population to work with (which can be frustrating at times). However, the work that I am doing, have done and am preparing to do has an impact on a broader population of those who are currently being served – and also those who are traditionally underserved by athletic training services.
When people ask me how the new job is going, I always say that professionally it was a great move and personally it was an outstanding move. This new position has allowed me to find some semblance of balance in my life. I absolutely loved the college setting and was in what I would have described as the “dream job” early in my career. However, as life changes, so do priorities. I found myself having a very difficult time balancing my role as a Head AT with a Division I University, with my desires and responsibilities as a husband and a father. This position has allowed me to do things that I hadn’t done in the previous 12 years with my family. Additionally, it has allowed me to remain and become active in other areas professionally. I am currently the president of our State Athletic Trainers’ Association and an AT Director-Elect for the Board of Certification. I also have been afforded the opportunity and time to serve on several Sports Medicine Advisory Committees locally and at the state level. All are ways of being able to give back professionally, outside of and in addition to things that I do for my position at TNMC.
What do you dislike about your position?
While I wouldn’t use the term dislike, I would say that the biggest thing that I miss in this position is the direct patient care and the interaction that I had with athletic training students on a daily basis. I’m definitely developing a new and valuable set of skills, but the clinical care and education that I was used to providing in my previous positions were some of the times that I treasured the most. I’m hoping that as this job evolves, I will be able to write myself back into time actually spent providing athletic training services that is more consistent than what I currently have. Fortunately, I have been able to stay involved with teaching through the athletic training education program at UNO. Although I don’t have contact with the students every day in the athletic training facility, I continue to be able to serve them in the classroom.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young Athletic Trainer looking at this setting?
There are a number of excellent opportunities that come with a position like this. It certainly opens your eyes to the diversity not only in patients, but also in providers. I think that it has helped me to become a more diverse professional. However, at least in my position, you have to be prepared for the differences between a position that is heavily administrative and one that includes more traditional athletic training. Every position is going to be different and each will be rewarding in its own unique way, but you have to make sure that you understand the job description and that the position fits your goals and expectations.