International Field Experience - SLU and Athlone Institute of Technology
By: Ronan Coyle and Gerald Percival
We are athletic training students from Ireland where we study at Athlone Institute of Technology. We will be spending 7 weeks total, of which we have 5 weeks completed, developing our skills at SLU’s clinical sites.
We both work predominantly at two clinical sites, one together and one apart, whilst also participating in two PY2 classes. We work together in the early mornings with Slu woman's basketball, start classes late in morning and then head to separate high schools during the late afternoons to evenings.
At SLU basketball it's an early start most mornings, with us having to be in the magnificent Chaifetz arena and ready for the athletes to arrive in at 6am.
Kara Cummings-Ludwig ATC is the AT responsible for the woman's basketball where she also covers the cheer and field hockey teams too. We work with her to create comprehensive rehabilitation programs for them. Kara gives us free reign in the AT room in the Chaifetz Arena when it comes to treating the women's basketball and field hockey players. There is a wide variety of modalities for us to use, some of which we have never used before like the game ready, or we would use soft tissue mobilizations if we feel they would be more beneficial.
I'm currently at Webster Groves High school for my high school clinical experience under the supervision of veteran preceptor Sean Wright, ATC. The training room at WGHS has a constant flow of students coming through its doors right from the end of school to the end of practices. They come in looking to be taped, treated, evaluated or continue their rehab. The sheer magnitude of athlete numbers struck me as a culture shock as there was so many sports and some excellent facilities. Sean runs a very well organised ship where he has created a very enjoyable working environment to learn in. We take turns taking athletes between Alissa PY2, Phillip and Nick both PY1 students, dealing with each new case. Sean allows us to be very much hands on with each athlete to the point where we are comfortable encourages us to be confident. He is allows available to run tests and treatments over with. The use of modalities over manual treatment techniques I have found to more commonplace that back home. This I can see is due to the limited time you have per athlete, making it not as feasible.
At Webster Groves there is an Athletic training class within the school that's Sean teaches, this is unique as we are encouraged to pass on our knowledge to the students. Sean himself is very open to learning to new things, and it feels good to pass on my skills to him along with the Slu and high school students in return for learning off them. We have both only watched American football at the highest level, such as Super Bowl. It struck us, just the length of time the whole game took place. It was a unique experience before games as 20+ athletes ascend to the training room all at once to be taped and treated in preparation for the game. I had the pleasure of helping out at the big turkey day game against Kirkwood High School, although we lost it was a great and unique experience.
For my clinical placement I was with Westminster Christian Academy. As this is my first time in America it was quite the cultural shock with the different sports and the top class sporting facilities available to the students compared to back home in Ireland. My first experience of an American sport was working with the football team at Westminster. It was an exciting experience as the only other time i've seen football was watching the Superbowl on the TV. On game day i was constantly on my feet from 9 in the morning looking after the players with various tapings to assessing any injuries picked up during the game. My preceptor at Westminster is Hilary Orf ATC. Right from the start we hit it off as we both compete on Track & Field. I was able to learn different ways of taping and performing special tests on the variety of injuries that came into the training room. Hilary let Bailey who is a PY1 at Westminster and myself take the lead on any injury evaluations and then once we have concluded we would discuss the evaluation on why and what we think the injury is. I am always getting a chance to practice some sort of skill whether it be special tests, taping, using modalities or giving athletes rehabilitation exercises. I hope that I will develop and grow professionally as an Athletic Therapist back in Ireland when I continue placement next semester.
We have really enjoyed our experiences here in Saint Louis University so far and hope it continues that way.