December 17, 2013

SLU AT Clinical Site Spotlight - Columbia High School

My great new adventure at Columbia High School!
By: Brittany Koops (MAT Class of 2015)

Moving here from California, I was 1,800 miles away from everything I’ve ever known, and all I had with me was my dog, my sister, and the passion and drive to pursue my education in athletic training. I was in a new city and at a new school, and anxiety and anticipation of the new semester were running high. I had hopes to be able to make friends with my classmates and find a place where I can feel I belong here in Saint Louis, but all that went away when I realized I was the only student assigned to my clinical site at Columbia High School with James Sepich ATC from Monroe County Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.

Brittany Koops and James Sepich ATC
I was hesitant at first. I felt I was being isolated from my peers. They all already knew one another, and had sites that played against each other, and would talk and share stories. I thought how can I make friends and feel comfortable in a new place when I am so far away?

What I thought was going to be a long semester alone was just the opposite. These past few months have passed in the blink of an eye. The moment I walked into Columbia High School I felt welcomed. I never felt that I was an inconvenience or just another face here for a few weeks, and then to never be seen again. The school’s staff was quick to learn my name, and always showed interest in my schooling and in me as a person. I am naturally a shy person and slow to warm up to people, but the warmth I felt at Columbia made it so much easier to gain the confidence I needed to achieve this past semester.

I wasn’t as afraid to ask questions, or to be wrong when I answered them. I knew my opinion mattered, and if I was wrong I wouldn’t be shut down, demeaned and embarrassed. My questions were taken considerately and answered effectively. I was challenged to retain the knowledge I had gained over the semester, and to learn things I wasn’t sure about. My clinical knowledge has greatly grown over this past semester, but that is not the only thing that has changed.

I feel Columbia High School has helped me grow as a person. My confidence in myself and my skills has been cultivated and has begun to grow in an environment that made me feel purposeful. I wasn’t just a face. I had a name, people cared about who I was, what I was there for, and they cared when I was gone. I learned that without confidence in myself, my knowledge will lose its power and validity. How can an athlete, coach, or parent trust what I have to say if I can’t say it confidently? Relationships are important in this field, and without them being strong, the job of an athletic trainer would be a lot tougher.

If you had asked me if I’d change my clinical site back when I first got assigned I would’ve said yes, now I know I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. It’s helped me become not only a better student, but a better person. I may not have made any friends with my classmates like I had hoped, but I have gained something long lasting nonetheless. In my preceptor I have found someone I feel comfortable asking questions, and I can trust and look up to as an athletic trainer. The comfort and belonging I have found at Columbia High School is what has kept me going through this hard semester alone in a new city. Even when homesickness was at its highest, and I felt like giving up, the people I’ve met at Columbia and things I’ve learned there have kept me going through this long haul, and will continue to keep me going into next semester.

This is one of a series of posts by the Saint Louis University Athletic Training students featuring their clinical site and their preceptors. The number, quality and diversity of clinical instruction are major assets for the SLU AT Program.

No comments: