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Transitioning To and Within the Real World: Advice from a Young Professional to Young Professionals

By Beth Wolfe, CAGS, ATC

August is a time for fresh starts and new adventures for many of us in the athletic training profession. For young professionals (YP), we might be starting a new path as a graduate student; transitioning to our first job out of our educational programs; transitioning to a new job; and some might be staying the course and starting a new year at their current employer.  Regardless of the path you might be on, here are 5 pieces of advice from a YP to YPs on how to make the best of this life and career transition month.

1. Stay humble. You are going to make mistakes and no one is perfect. Acknowledge your failures, embrace them and ask for help. These humbling moments are the foundation and cornerstones to becoming a more responsible, patient and wiser clinician and practitioner.

2. Find a Mentor. Having an experienced and trusted mentor is essential to your success within the athletic training profession. There are going to be difficult patient cases and administrative situations  you will need to seek help and advice for; have this person on speed dial.  Seek and find a mentor early as you will need this person(s) often.

3. Always be willing to learn. As healthcare providers, we will never stop learning. Learning requires us to listen and put aside our own personal beliefs and agendas in order to acquire and refine our skills.  Be a sponge around your colleagues and physicians as you will learn many valuable skills just by being in their presence, observing their techniques and asking questions.

4. Step up to the plate and swing. You will never develop or cultivate your skills and knowledge unless you use them.  Take the initiative to practice newly acquired skills, measure your patients’ outcomes and don’t rely and wait for someone else to give you directions.  If you encounter obstacles or set-backs along the way you can always ask for help, but it is up to you to take a walk into the batter’s box and swing the bat.

5. Find a way to give back. This profession and the people in it will give to you more than you will ever know.  Find a way to give back, and do it early.  From mentoring a young student or volunteering at a local event, pay forward something that is meaningful and purposeful to you.