These question(s) identify and address the interests, needs and concerns of young athletic training professionals. Young professional Mike Hopper, ATC, has teamed up with the experience of Danielle Kleber, ATC, to highlight some of the issues young professionals find themselves dealing with early in their careers.
If you’re choosing a team physician, what qualities are you looking for?
There are three main things I consider when looking for a team physician – availability, outcomes, and their understanding of sports medicine.
To me, having my team physician available to both myself and student-athletes is key. As an Athletic Trainer (AT), I feel that I should have access to my team doctor’s cell phone number to be able to call them when needed. (Obviously not abusing that privilege is also important to keep your physician responsive and respecting your input). I also need my student-athletes seen immediately, so their willingness to squeeze someone in on their schedule is important.
An understanding of sports medicine is another factor. And, I’m talking about true sports medicine, meaning they respect my role as an AT, value my skill set, and communicate with me. The physician should have a broadened skill set to include knowledge about concussion management and other sports related general medicine topics. They also need to understand the timelines we work with and know that their advice has to be congruent with sports medicine expectations.
Lastly, it is important to learn the outcomes of the physician’s patients. It’s extremely difficult to rehab a student-athlete that has been mended by poor surgical techniques or sloppy follow up care.
My final piece of advice comes from my current role and now understanding the business side of insurance reimbursement and clinic management. You are an asset to your team physician as much as they are to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in paying for continuing education or your NATA membership. Ask them to go to bat with your request to a booster club for a piece of rehab equipment. Simply don’t be afraid to request something from them or their clinic once in awhile. I used to just feel grateful for their help, but now that I have a clear picture of the economics behind the healthcare business, be confident that you are also helping their business out a great deal.
I’ve been fortunate because the physicians I have worked with over the years have been phenomenal and very supportive of ATs.
Michael Hopper, ATC, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health Management: Athletic Training Concentration from Southeast Missouri State University in 2010. He is a current graduate student through the University of South Florida working towards a Master’s Degree in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Athletic Training. Hopper has worked with athletes of all ages from youth sports all the way up to professional baseball and currently works for Monroe Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Waterloo, IL.
Danielle Kleber, ATC, attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Fitness and Leisure Management with emphasis in Athletic Training and went on to complete her master’s coursework at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in Fitness and Wellness Promotion. Her professional experience includes collegiate and high school experience and she has worked with athletes at all levels of competition. Currently she works at the Director of Operations at Athletes’ Training Center, a sports performance and physical therapy facility in Omaha, NE.