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Workplace Bullying - Awareness and Prevention

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

The definition of a bully is, “a person who uses superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants.” October was National Bullying Prevention Month and brings to mind the struggles we all face with bullying.  Many people view bullying as an issue mostly experienced by children and young adults; however, bullying can happen into adulthood and throughout one’s life.  Bullying can even happen on the job in athletic training, regardless of how noticeable it is or is not.

As a young professional, I had a bullying experience a few weeks ago.  Currently, I am a second year academic graduate assistant and usually try to get as much clinical experience as possible.  I was working at a local high school football game and was standing on the sideline with water.  The team was losing, and the angered head coach approached me to get a drink.  He came up to me and said, “How does it feel that you have wasted all this money on education to stand on a high school sideline and hand out water bottles?”

I am not going to lie; it hurt.  I was shocked a person I was supposed to be on a team with would speak to me in such a manner.  That experience was eye-opening for me and made me realize that even as a professional you can experience bullying on the job.  Athletic Trainers or any other professionals should not be subject to bullying or any other negative conversation.  After a few days of thinking about this experience, I decided I would never allow a coach or colleague to speak to me in a disrespectful way again.  I have worked hard to be in the athletic training profession, and I deserve respect on and off the field.

Bullying awareness and prevention encompasses more than Athletic Trainers, and I challenge everyone to take a stand and fight for the respect you have earned.  If you are working with a coach, colleague or other individual who is constantly undermining you or trying to overrule your decisions, make an effort to change the relationship.

We are healthcare professionals; we are educated and trained in the prevention of injuries, rehabilitation, immediate care, evaluation and administration.  The coaching staff, parents and athletes should honor our thoughts and actions.  Athletic Trainers should never feel undermined or threatened on the job. Take a stand for yourself and others around you and put this type of bullying to an end