March is here, and so is National Athletic Training Month (NATM). It’s time put away the khaki pants and break out the khaki shorts, and it’s also time to start promoting our profession and spread awareness about all the work Athletic Trainers (ATs) do. Most people hang the posters and signs and tell people that it is National Athletic Training Month, which is great. Information on this can be found on the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) website (http://www.nata.org/national-athletic-training-month).
But I want to share some ideas of different ways to educate people about what ATs do and know.
Secondary School: Hold a raffle/quiz for athletic training themed prizes. Create a quiz for students, staff and parents, and require that they score 90% or so in order to enter the raffle. The prizes can be first aid kits, extra water bottles, towels, etc. You can also use this as a fundraising opportunity and sell raffle tickets.
Colleges and Universities: Host an Open Athletic Training Facility Night where students, faculty and staff, and local community members can come in and see what an athletic training facility looks like, how it runs and what ATs actually do. AT Students: Set up an evaluation booth at the school’s campus recreational center. Have a preceptor supervise and offer free evaluations and rehabilitation exercises for other students, faculty and staff.
Hospital and Clinical: Hold a free taping clinic to the local community (coaches, athletes, etc.). This will help them understand part of your background, and you can inform them about what else you can do to help be physically fit and stay safe.
Professional Sports: Contact your team’s PR department and inform then that it is NATM. Offer ideas for articles they can write or videos they can show. Examples are, “A Day in the Life of (insert name), The Athletic Trainer for (insert team name)” and the video, “Behind the Scenes with a Certified Athletic Trainer.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5ESMWGVHlc)
Occupational Health: Change your signature in your email account. Add a small picture of the NATM logo and possibly a little sentence about ATs. For example: Athletic Trainers (ATs) are healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Taken from http://www.nata.org/athletic-training
Military: Create a bulletin board for NATM and have a section that introduces yourself as an AT, what you do in the setting and a little bit about yourself (work experience, family life, how you improve patient outcomes, etc.)
Performing Arts: Set up a “Trade Places for a Day” with one of your performers. Have the performer try to teach you some of the activities that they do, and you can teach/show them what it is like to be an AT.
Public Awareness: Contact your local government official and try to get a proclamation in the town or county you work/live in. NATA has information on how to do this with sample proclamations. This can be found on the NATA’s website (http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/NATM_2014_proclamation.pdf).
Physician Extender: Ask your physician if it would be okay to wear a shirt or scrubs that say “Athletic Training” or the name of the college or university you graduated before you became an AT. When patients ask about your shirt inform them about NATM and what an AT does. In the end, anything you do to help promote the athletic training profession will be great.
Written By: Brian Bradley, MS, ATC, LAT, CSCS