In-Depth Look: Athletic Trainer working as an Associate Professor

Kellie C. Huxel Bliven, PhD, ATC works in higher education, primarily in graduate post-professional education at A.T. Still University of Health Services (ATSU).

Describe your setting:

ATSU is named for the founder of osteopathic medicine, Andrew Taylor Still. The university is a graduate, health professions university with 2 campuses located in Kirksville, Missouri and Mesa, Arizona. I’m located in Mesa, where there are a variety of health professional programs including athletic training, dental, osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and many more. I am fortunate to work with and teach in several of the programs on campus and online, which allows me to interact with, work alongside and learn from a variety of health professionals.

Currently, my primary position is in the online, post-professional kinesiology program. The students enrolled in this program come from a variety of health and fitness backgrounds. I also have adjunct positions in athletic training and dental programs.

While teaching is a large component of my job, it is not what I spend most days doing. I currently serve on many institutional and professional committees, which requires time for meetings, and work on projects for the organization. I also am working on several research projects, which requires concentrated time for reading and writing.

How long have you worked in this setting?

I began working in higher education after earning my PhD in 2005. I started at Indiana State University and was there for 3years as a faculty member in the athletic training department working with both undergraduate and graduate accredited programs.

In 2008, I moved to ATSU. For 3 years, I was an assistant professor for anatomy in the Arizona School of Health Sciences. In this position, I was responsible for teaching the physician assistant and audiology anatomy courses. In 2011, I had the opportunity to become involved in online education and transferred from anatomy to the kinesiology program, formerly known as human movement. All along, I’ve been fortunate to remain connected to the athletic training programs, where I’ve taught several courses and served as a thesis adviser.

Describe your typical day:

I gauge my schedule and typical day according to the academic calendar and the current quarter. As much as I try to structure my schedule, it inevitably is changed! In general, I like to get into the office early – I consider it my uninterrupted time – to read, respond to emails and grade. Most days, by 9:00am, are filled with committee and student meetings. I also carve out time to interact with students in the online courses I teach and work on projects, such as research and course development.

What do you like about your position?

I like working with people, so the interaction I have with colleagues and students is something I really enjoy and value. I also like that I have flexibility in terms of how I use my time to complete tasks. I also have a variety of courses, projects and committees in which I am involved.

What do you dislike about your position?

Sometimes there are too many opportunities to get involved, and I am not the best at saying no to things!

Recently, I have begun to miss the clinical setting and am exploring how to integrate that back into my work.

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

There will be many opportunities that come to you so learn to be judicious in what you agree to do so you do not overcommit yourself. I am still trying to take this advice! I also think learning time management and life balance early in your career is important to continued success and enjoyment in this setting.


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