Archive for August, 2013

Program Director Highlights: Melanie McGrath

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Program Director Highlights from the February 2013 PD Update
Program Director - Melanie McGrath, PhD, ATC
University of Nebraska at Omaha

1)    How many students are currently in your program(s)?

Currently, we have 37 students total. We have 22 in our undergraduate program, and 15 in our entry-level master’s program. We always have fewer students in the spring, as some of our undergraduates are eligible to graduate in December.

2)    Do you teach any class(es)? If so, which one(s)?

In the fall, I teach Rehabilitation Techniques in Athletic Training, and Topics in Sports Medicine. In the spring, I teach Introduction to Athletic Training, as well as Lower Extremity Evaluation. In the summer, I teach Advanced Orthopedic and Medical Aspects of Athletic Training.

3)    Do you use the BOC Self Assessment Exam(s) as tools to assist your students in preparing for the exam? How?

I was lucky enough to receive 30 vouchers for BOC Self Assessment Exams as payment for helping the BOC with a project a few years ago. I gave those to our graduating students, who used them to prepare for their BOC exam. I now strongly encourage all of our students to take at least one self assessment exam as they prepare for the BOC exam. I encourage our students to take it about 6-8 weeks in advance of their exam date, so that they can focus their studying on one or two key areas during those crucial final weeks prior to the exam. I find the feedback provided to the students after taking the self assessment exams truly helps our students as they study.

4)    How do you prepare your students for the BOC exam?

We begin our students’ preparation as soon as they begin their first athletic training class. We utilize question formats in our classroom exams that mimic the format of the BOC exam (multiple choice, multiple select, drag and-drop matching, etc.). I provide the Reference List from the BOC exam to our library annually, to ensure that our students have access to every textbook utilized during preparation.

Our entry-level master’s students take a comprehensive exam during their final semester, and we prepare that exam so it aligns with the domains of athletic training used on the BOC (as a percentage of questions in each domain). We encourage our undergraduate students to also take this comprehensive exam to prepare for the BOC exam. Finally, we recently re-instituted BOC Study Sessions, led by our ATEP instructors, to review material during the spring semester of our students’ final year in the program. However, the most important preparation that our students have is simply passing all of their courses and clinical rotations.

5)    What study materials do you recommend to your students?

As a way to get the students started, I have them return to the most recent edition of “Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training” textbook, and use the questions at the end of each chapter. I find this is a simple way to initiate the study process for our students. I also advise them to reference the BOC Role Delineation Study, specifically Appendix A which lists the domains and the specific tasks, knowledge, and skills in each domain.

Then, I advise them to self-identify some areas they feel weak in, and I have them select the relevant texts from the BOC Exam Reference List, or I have them reference their class notes on that area. As they get closer to their exam date, I have them take a self-assessment, either the BOC Self Assessment Exams or the “Study Guide” from ACES. Finally, many of our students purchase the commercially-available “study guides” for the BOC exam. While these are not my first recommendation for study materials, the texts, quizzes and test banks seem to motivate our students to engage in the studying process.

6)    Please provide some tips for how you prepare your students for entering the real world (e.g. completing the BOC paperwork post-exam; state licensure/registration/certification; NPI numbers).

  • Make your transcript requests in advance. Most universities (including UNO) will allow you to request a transcript to be sent after your degree has been posted. If you request it early, you won’t have to worry about remembering to do it as you are moving, celebrating your graduation and transitioning into “the real world!”
  • Keep your CPR/AED cards in a safe location, and KEEP YOUR EXPIRED CARDS AS WELL! If the BOC audits your CEUs, you will need to provide evidence that you were continuously certified in CPR and AED. It is much easier to keep the cards than to ask the Red Cross or AHA to dig through their files and provide that information for you.
  • Prepare your licensure/registration application before you graduate, and have your supervising AT sign any documents before you graduate. Again, this saves time.
  • If you have a criminal conviction, start your BOC application process (and ultimately your licensure process) at least 6 months in advance of when you hope to take the exam (or have your licensure). This ensures that you can collect the necessary court documents - that process can take a considerable amount of time!
  • Most importantly, keep in contact with your PD, Clinical Coordinator, preceptors and fellow graduates. They will be very important during that first year: providing advice, helping you with licensure paperwork, providing references and helping you network with other ATs (who may, someday, want to hire you).
  • When you put someone down as a reference for a job, email that person to notify them and include a recent resume as well as the job description. That way, they will be prepared to answer any questions that may be asked during a reference check.

7)    Do you have any tips, suggestions or questions for other Program Directors?

In my first month as PD, the CAATE audited one of our programs. It was a real “trial by fire,” as I had to come up with all of the paperwork for a program I had literally just taken over! However, that experience really exposed me to the administrative side of my position, and I truly feel that it helped me transition much more quickly than I would have, had the audit not taken place.

So while I may not recommend an audit for new PDs, I would suggest immersing yourself in the administrative aspect immediately. Consolidate files, audit affiliation agreements and student files, revise policy and procedure manuals, and go through the CAATE Standards with a fine-tooth comb. Make it a goal to know exactly how you meet each CAATE Standard, and where that evidence is located, during your first semester. It will make your next annual report or self-study much easier!

If you are a PD who would like to be considered for inclusion in the Featured Program Highlights, please submit an email with your interest to

NPI Numbers Essential for All Healthcare Providers

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

You will be hearing, or perhaps you have heard, that the NATA and the BOC are urging all Athletic Trainers (ATs) to register for their National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers. If you already have your number, we request your help by sharing this information with your colleagues and encouraging them to obtain their NPI number.

We’ve summarized information here and will be posting more to our website.

What is the NPI Number?

An NPI number is now required for all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) transactions and claims, coordination of patient benefits, patient medical record system and prescriptions.

Your NPI number allows other healthcare professionals (physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, physician assistants, hospital systems, etc.) know who provided the patient’s care or referral. An NPI is essential for electronic medical records compliance. The 10 digit NPI number is your unique identifier in the electronic medical record arena.

Why get an NPI number?

With healthcare reform solidly underway, it is more important than ever that ATs obtain their NPI number upon licensure.

Having an NPI is more than a reimbursement issue. It’s another way to stand up and be counted in the health profession community.

An NPI is required of all healthcare professionals for HIPAA transactions, claims and coordination of patient benefits.

Who needs an NPI number?

All healthcare professionals need NPI numbers, including athletic training faculty members, preceptors and program directors.

When did this begin?

The NPI number was described and passed into law in 1996, as part of HIPAA. However, the section pertaining to the NPI only became effective in May 2007.

Where can I find more information?

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA)

How do I obtain an NPI number?

Visit the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) website to complete an application.

When filling out your application, use:

Provider Code 22 (Respiratory, Rehabilitative & Restorative Service Providers)

Taxonomy Code 2255A2300X (Athletic Trainer)


Evidence Based Practice (EBP)

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Beginning in 2014, all Athletic Trainers (ATs) will be required to complete a minimum number of BOC Approved Evidence Based Practice (EBP) events. Programming in this category is intended to promote EBP within the profession by enhancing clinicians’ ability to find and evaluate evidence, as well as apply it to their practice.

Utilizing the best available evidence, clinical expertise and patients’ values and expectations can improve patient outcomes, said BOC Standards Committee member Kitty Newsham, PhD, ATC.

“Ultimately, EPB is clinically relevant and patient-centered care,” Newsham said.

EBP integrates evidence, expertise and patient values to support clinical decisions in patient care. The new continuing education courses will address theoretical or practical aspects of EBP. In addition, topics relevant to EBP, such as critical appraisal or statistical analysis, also will be explored.

ATs certified prior to 2013 will be required to complete 10 EBP continuing education units (CEUs) per two-year certification period. Newly certified ATs will be required to complete five EBP CEUs for their initial recertification period. The BOC will highlight all BOC Approved EBP courses online as a resource for ATs on the BOC website.

The entire article on EBP can be reviewed in the summer Cert Update.

Program Director Highlights: Mark Stutz

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Program Director Highlights from the February 2013 PD Update
Program Director - Mark Stutz, PhD, LAT, ATC
Nebraska Wesleyan University

1) How many students are currently in your program(s)?


2) Do you teach any classes? If so, which one(s)?

Yes. Physical Examination of the Upper Extremity, Physical Examination of the Lower Extremity, Therapeutic Modalities, Rehabilitation of Athletic Injuries, Organization and Administration of Athletic Training, Health Assessment, Advanced Emergency Care, and Introduction to Allied Health.

3) Do you use the BOC Self Assessment Exam(s) as tools to assist your students in preparing for the exam? How?

Our students are shown several resources to assist them in preparing for the exam. This is one of those resources.

4) How do you prepare your students for the BOC exam?

In order to prepare students for the BOC exam, many of the tests they take throughout the program have multiple responses and are completed on the computer. During their senior year, students review many of their proficiencies in their final clinical course and are required to pass a comprehensive examination that they take on the computer as part of their senior capstone course. Like other exams taken throughout the program, this comprehensive exam contains questions with multiple responses and covers all domains of athletic training.

5) What study materials do you recommend to your students?

Athletic Training Exam Review: A Student Guide to Success, Fourth Edition by Lynn Van Ost, MEd, RN, PT, ATC; Karen Manfre, MA, ATR; Karen Lew, MEd, LAT, ATC Also, as a study guide for the BOC exam, we use Athletic Trainer Certification Examination, Fourth Edition by Susan L. Rozzi, Michelle G. Futrell, and Douglas M. Kleiner (comes with a CD).

6) Please provide some tips for how you prepare your students for entering the real world (e.g. completing the BOC paperwork post-exam; state licensure/registration/certification; NPI numbers).

In order to prepare students for entering the real world, the NWU ATEP faculty assists the students in many ways.  This starts with resume and cover letter writing while students are still in the program and includes how to conduct a job search and how to prepare for a job interview. Additionally, we explain what paperwork is required of them once they have successfully passed the BOC exam and have graduated. We also assist them with this process when questions arise. Another example is that we counsel them on the importance of knowing the licensing requirements for the state where they will be working as an AT and assist them in completing the necessary paperwork as needed.

7) Do you have any tips, suggestions or questions for other Program Directors?

I believe that students are more prepared for what is ahead of them when they are armed with all of the necessary information.  I believe that as the “information center,” it is my job to disseminate the appropriate information to them in order to help them successfully navigate through the process of preparing and applying for taking the BOC exam, as well as completing all requirements to obtain their certification and other credentialing requirements. While it is ultimately their responsibility to initiate and complete the steps, the students know they can call on me or other members of the faculty for information and assistance when needed.

If you are a PD who would like to be considered for inclusion in the Featured Program Highlights, please submit an email with your interest to

Attention Gmail Users

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

As you may have seen or read, Gmail is rolling out tabs that organize your mail. If you haven’t already received this update on Gmail, it will likely come soon.

Be Certain.™ you still see important BOC emails that could get lost in Gmail’s new tab system. Here’s how to make sure you’re not missing out on important notices.

In Gmail, there are three default tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions (shown below). Gmail now places newsletters and other BOC communications in the "Promotions" tab.

There are three ways to keep BOC emails top of mind in your inbox (the first is our favorite):

  1. Drag a BOC email message from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab; this will ensure that future emails from us arrive in the Primary tab
  2. Restore Gmail’s old inbox; click the “+” tab and, in the pop-up box, deselect the Social and Promotions options
  3. Remember to frequently check the Promotions tab and be on the lookout for BOC emails

For more information, view this great video to learn how to keep control of your inbox – and not lose important notices about protecting your BOC certification.

An In Depth Look with…Katie Heckenbach, MA, ATC

Friday, August 16th, 2013

An In Depth Look with…Katie Heckenbach, MA, ATC

Describe your setting:

I work at the United States Military Academy at West Point with Competitive Club Sports.  I work with college students who are also learning to be officers in the United States Army, while receiving a college education.  What makes West Point unique for an Athletic Trainer (AT) is that every cadet (student) must participate in athletics at some level.  It is said here that every cadet is an athlete.  This philosophy is used because working as a member of team builds sportsmanship and morale within a group.

The athletics are divided into three sections: Corps Squad, Competitive Club and Company Athletics.  Corps Squad athletics are your traditional college-setting sports, such as football, basketball and soccer.  Competitive Club Sports are non-traditional sports, such as judo, boxing, rugby, team handball, marathon, fencing and many more.  Company Athletics are for the majority of the cadet population who are not involved in Corps Squad or Club Sports.  Company Athletics are intramural sports broken up into teams by company.  A company is a large group ofcadets (approximately 100 – give or take) of all different class years comprising four groups (referred to as platoons).

Working with Competitive Clubs is unique because of the variety of sports.  We have a total of 21 sports and three ATs to cover all of them.  As a result, we group them by risk classification.  Our high risk sports (those with a higher/more serious injury rate) includes men’s and women’s boxing, judo, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s team handball, and men’s and women’s Rugby.  We have one AT, Ms. Ashley Hoogeveen, who is solely dedicated to both rugby teams.  The Head AT, Ms. Dana Johnston, is responsible for men’s and women’s boxing, and my main responsibility is judo.  Ms. Johnston and I share the remaining 16 sport teams for practice and event  staffing, evaluation and treatment.

How long have you worked in this setting?

I have worked in this setting since August 2012, so I am still rather new to it.  Previous to the start of the 2013 school year, Ms. Johnston had been covering 27 sports on her own.  The need for additional ATs was recognized by the Directorate of Cadet Activities and the Department of Physical Education, and two positions were created.  Ms. Hoogeveen and I were hired together to fulfill this need.

Describe your typical day:

I arrive at work around noon and work on administrative duties.  Our clinic opens for evaluations, treatments and rehabilitation at 1300 (1:00pm for those non-military minded folks).  The cadets are on a 2-day block schedule, so some cadets may only be able to come every other day.  We generally begin practice preparation and taping at 1600 (4:00pm), as practices for most teams begin at 1630 (4:30pm).  Depending on the day, I will either go to judo practice or be down in the clinic for practice time.  We operate with one of our staff members in the clinic at all times, to ensure there is a home base for all club athletes.  This allows us to triage emergencies, evaluate athletes and perform any necessary treatments for all club athletes.  Cadets generally come in for ice and post-practice treatments between 1815 and 1900.  The second round of practices for the club teams begins at 1830 (6:30pm) (due to facility time) and typically ends around 8:15pm.  Once we have cleaned and restocked for the night, we are generally out by 9:00pm.  This is my schedule for Monday through Wednesday.  Thursdays and Fridays are slightly shorter due to a mandatory dinner for all cadets and limited practice schedules.  Weekends vary and are dependent on event staffing  and travel.  Some weekends, we have so many different events going on at home that we hire per-diem ATs to aid staffing  requests.  Other weekends, we have limited events and are able to enjoy some personal time.

What do you like about your position?

I have the privilege of working with tomorrow’s officers for the United States Army.  I could not ask for a more respectful group to work with; they are highly motivated to complete rehabs and do all they can to return to full duty.  The cadets put a lot of trust in my judgment and typically are very thankful for any help they receive.  The support staff and higher-ups (aka chain of command) are very supportive of all we do and are always trying to help us out in any way they can.  The schedule we have is flexible, allowing us to be able to go to personal events or take time off when necessary.  Additionally, since I work with so many different sports, no two days are ever the same.  I have a diverse population of people walking through my door every day; injuries come not only from club participation, but also from physical education classes, fitness tests and drills.  It is a challenge, but I look forward to it as I never cease growing in this environment.  There are a lot of injuries that we see here, that some people may never see in a lifetime, such as pulmonary embolism, spontaneous pneumothorax, compartment syndrome or a ruptured globe.

What do you dislike about your position?

Staffing so many sports can make it slightly crazy around here at times.  I wouldn’t say this is something I dislike directly, but there are times where I know I wish there were more of us to help all of the cadets.  Additionally, while I mentioned earlier that the cadet population is highly motivated, this motivation can cause them to not rest or to push themselves through pain when they don’t need to.  On a daily basis, we fight the age-old notion that you must be “Army Strong,” and therefore (as the cadets see it) ignore the pain.  We want cadets to understand that reporting and treating injuries before they get worse is the better option so they will be able to participate in all that is required of them here at West Point.

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

Seeing as I recently started in this setting, there are a few things I wish I would’ve known coming into it.  First of all, don’t expect the job application process to be easy.  The government handles the process very differently from other institutions, and you may not be able to get the answers you want right away.  Be patient and don’t get discouraged.

Second, be prepared to learn an immense amount once you arrive in this setting.  There are numerous protocols, procedures and acronyms that you likely have never heard before that you will be expected to use or understand on a daily basis.  Additionally, you will be expected to know your chain of command, which may include high ranking officers in the Army.  There are times where you may be expected to make and/or present reports to them.  Initially, it can be intimidating.

Lastly, and most importantly for any young AT working in ANY setting: expect to make mistakes.  Trust yourself and your skills, even after these mistakes have been made.  What may look like a textbook case of a muscle strain may turn out to be something much more significant.  You can’t dwell on it.  You use it as a learning experience, move on and trust your ability to keep your athletes healthy.

Disclaimer: These views may not be the views of the United States Military Academy or of the United States Army and should be taken as the author’s personal opinion only.

ATs Take Action for Back-to-School Sports

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Summer 2013 is drawing to an end, and it is back to school time. With young athletes returning to playing fields in time for preseason practice, now is the time to ensure parents, coaches, administrators and others are well educated on injury prevention to ensure safe and successful seasons. With nearly 7 million high school students participating in sports today, there are a reported 715,000 high school sports-related injuries experienced each year, and 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each day for sports-related injuries, according to the National Council of Youth Sports.

Educating parents and school personnel about ways to help children avoid common sports-related injuries is a top priority. And, nothing is more frustrating to the athlete, his or her team and family, than for an avoidable injury to occur and sideline him or her from play.

How can you prepare as a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer (AT)? ATs often serve in a risk management role through annual emergency action plan reviews and protocol and procedure communication with staff and local emergency medical personnel.

Preseason is a great time for ATs to meet parents of the student-athletes through parent associations or club meetings and to build a positive relationship. Keeping open communication regarding injury prevention and health of the student is crucial.

The beginning of a new school year is also a good time to review the BOC Facilities Principles. This document will provide the means for secondary and post-secondary educational institutions and organizations to self-assess their policies, procedures and facilities to ensure the safe, effective and legal provision of athletic healthcare services.

Don’t forget to review the BOC Standards of Professional Practice and to renew your Athletic Trainers’ Professional Liability Insurance (also called Malpractice Insurance) as required under the Code of Professional Responsibility. This can help protect your assets and keep your career in health care successful.

State regulation for ATs is now required in 48 states.  ATs working in these locations must operate under a current registration, certification or license depending on their state practice act.  Be Certain.™ to hold a current state regulation certificate and follow state laws.

Written By:
Brittney Ryba