The Professional Phase of the Saint Louis University Athletic Training has two points of entry: (1) as a graduate student after receiving a bachelor's degree; and (2) as a progressing student in SLU's freshman-entry 3+2 Master of Athletic Training program.
SLU Pre-professional AT students take MAT 3000 - AT Student Development II in spring of their junior year where they prepare to enter the professional phase of the program. This course includes directed observation in athletic training clinical settings and professional engagement. Each of these student writes a blog post about these experiences as they look forward to progressing into the professional phase of the program:
I completed the majority of my observation hours with SLU Athletics. I got the opportunity to observe and help with a variety of Athletic Training events, including SLU Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, SLU Volleyball, SLU Track and Field meet preparation, and returning athlete physicals. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to experience Athletic Training in a few of its different capacities, not just game coverage, but also practice, pre-game, behind-the-scenes event prep, and annual mandatory physicals. It was a really great look into the reality of Athletic Training, as I got to observe multiple of SLU’s Athletic Trainers and be involved with an assortment of events. In my very first direct observation event, I was observing Men’s Basketball game coverage. During the game, an opposing player suffered and injury on the court and was immediately tended to and transported off the court to the AT room for treatment. The speed and efficiency of action to care was both impressive and exciting. Being only steps away from the incident, it was really cool to see the fast-paced reaction to the scene.
This semester I had the opportunity to observe SLU’s women softball and volleyball athletic trainer, Elena Melillo. After observing the softball team’s practices and games for several hours, I feel more confident to face my first semester in the professional phase as well as my first clinical experience. Looking carefully at the interaction of the athletic trainer with the team members taught me that building a strong relationship between the athletic trainer and his or her athletes is key, especially if it is based on trusting each other. This experience also gave me an insight of what an appropriate relationship between the athletic trainer and the athletic training student should be. As a student, I understand that my clinical knowledge is going to build with time and experience, but a way to make the learning process faster is definitely going to be by asking questions and observing the techniques and interactions of the athletic trainer at my clinical site.
My favorite experience of direct observation was working the Lou Fusz soccer tournament under the Athletic Trainers from the Young Athletes Center. I got to see a lot of action and injury, compared to the other high school and colleges I went to. I also got to talk to three great Athletic Trainers, from different settings, all in one day. I got to ask a lot of questions and hear about how four different people used their AT degree. Because of the high volume of activity at a soccer tournament, I got to see more injuries. I also got to go onto the field for each one with the Athletic Trainer. It was a great experience to get to see the first reaction and steps of when AT asses the injury. The AT’s were great about letting me get right up to the action. The best part of the experience was getting to hear from different ATs. They all came from different paths of education and went a different route with their degree. One went on to become an Occupational Therapist, one works for an orthopedic surgeon, and one has a main role at the Young Athletes Center. They encouraged questions and we had very real conversation about the profession and health care as a whole. Getting to ask questions and talk about the different paths of AT was such a valuable experience that I will cherish down the road into my profession phase.
This past year I have had many wonderful experiences that have prepared me to enter the professional phase of the Athletic Training Program at Saint Louis University. These experiences have included professional development where I have been able to immerse myself in the network of athletic trainers and direct observation of practicing athletic trainers at various clinical sights. Although my path as a pre-med student is different than most athletic training students, these experiences have been so beneficial and have set me up to succeed not only in my last year as an undergrad at SLU but also during medical school and far beyond. The professional development activities that I have been able to take part in this year include things like the Athletic Training Speaker Series, the SLATS Bowl-a-thon, and the Athletic Training Capstone presentations. These events all allow students networking opportunities and a unique experience to learn from peers. The amount of knowledge gained from watching the capstone presentations was outstanding. The students put in hard work on their research topics which covered a wide array of topics that any health professional would find beneficial. In the coming year I look forward to continuing my professional development and I am especially excited that I have the opportunity to be the Vice President for Iota Tau Alpha, our Athletic Training Honors Society. I was able to observe many different athletic trainers and graduate athletic training students at a variety of clinical sights. I was able to be with teams like Webster Groves High School Basketball and SLU track and field as well as attend coordinated events such as the Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Tournament. Being able to learn from professionals in a direct clinical setting is a great experience. Each athletic trainer has insight and invaluable information to be shared with students willing to learn. These experiences have helped prepared me to engage with patients in future settings. I am very excited to be moving forward in the SLU Athletic Training program and I look forward to where the future takes me!
Over the course of this spring semester I have learned a lot at Harris-Stowe State University. I was able to observe preceptor Timothy Herlihy ATC and Carmen Roberson (MAT Class of 2020) during my time there. A big bulk of what I saw in Harris Stowe’s AT room was rehabilitation. Athletes came in throughout the day for rehab appointments that also incorporated strengthening. Tim is the only athletic trainer at Harris Stowe, which means that he sees and treats all of the athletes at Harris Stowe. His knowledge about injuries, common injuries within each sport, and rehabilitation exercises is inspiring. I really like that Tim has a lot of trust in Carmen, so she was able to have a lot of hands on experiences with the athletes coming in. I also appreciate that Tim shared a lot of wisdom with me and talked to me about his personal experiences as an AT in different settings. I really enjoyed going in to the AT room and seeing athletes following a rehab protocols because I’m personally really interested in the rehab component of Athletic Training. While I was not able to work directly with any athletes at Harris Stowe, I have learned a lot this semester from Tim and Carmen. Moving forward I hope to be as knowledgeable as Tim and as eager to learn and have hands-on experiences as Carmen.
During my time observing certified Athletics Trainers and the PY1 and PY2’s, I got to get a better understanding of the setting of being an AT. I was able to observe a high school setting and the college setting of Athletic Training. At the sites I have gone to, I experienced different aspects of each setting. The site I have pictured was when I observed a soccer/ lacrosse tournament at Creve Coeur Soccer Complex. At this site it was for younger athletes, rather than high school or college athletes. It was interesting to see how to handle younger kids, compared to older athletes I usually get to observe. While at Creve Coeur, not many athletes came to the AT tent for injuries. They were mostly bumps or scrapes that needed bandages or ice from us. It was much less to do, compared to high school or college athletes who seemed to be constantly coming in and out of the AT rooms or tents. In the college and high school setting, I was able to observe rehab implementation much more. Before or after games athletes would come into the AT room and tent where they spent a lot of time in rehab or icing to prevent further injury. Whereas in this setting, the AT’s will only briefly meet with their athletes if they get an injury. Most of the time is was very minor. In a high school or college setting, the AT’s work more closely to their athletes and build strong relationships between each other. The setting of college and high schoolers is something I enjoyed observing more, because of the relationship that was built between the AT and athlete.
I spent the final weekend of April at the Creve Coeur Soccer Park completing my direct observation hours with a soccer tournament. One of my preceptors for the weekend was Tom McGowan, ATC. He and the other Athletic Trainers are part of the Young Athletes Center of St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University at St. Louis Physicians. He answered all questions I had on the profession and warmly welcomed me into the team of health care professionals despite the cold weather. During the first day it rained most of the morning and into the afternoon. Not exactly what I had in mind for my Saturday morning, but the young players were still out on the field practicing and competing. My estimate of the age range for this soccer tournament would be Elementary through Junior High. There was a few injuries, bumps and bruises, that occurred that morning. I quickly caught on, especially with the younger ones, that often the child would be hit with a ball or kicked by an opponent and fall. It would be shocking and scary for the child, so they would take their time standing up and by the time the Athletic Trainers got to them on the field or the bench the child had calmed down and was only shaken up a little bit. I am very happy to not see a child more seriously injured but after the first few times running out on the field for no injury I was a little bored. I remembered though that with people of such a young age that ball to the cheek or collision with an opponent may have been one of the most painful and scary moments they had experienced in their life so far. The child is not over-reacting or “crying wolf” to get a break from the game, instead they are learning about their body. They are learning about what their body can take, what their pain tolerance is, how to handle potential injuries safely. I was pleased to see the referees, coaches, and parents want to have their kids checked out. In older athletes’, injuries might often be hidden or ignored until the problem gets too large to handle on their own. It is important for the adults taking care of the players to tend toward the side of caution as it teaches the young players to trust the healthcare providers that will be caring for them into adulthood.
This semester was my most enjoyable one so far in the AT program. Finally getting to go out to different sites to see what happened was very much enjoyed, even if I didn’t get to do much. My favorite site this semester was John Burroughs School. It had the most going on there when I was there. I enjoyed watching the sporting games and although unfortunate there were some injuries. I played along with what I saw and how I would go about finding what was wrong and then what I would do about it. Before the games, the AT room was busy with many different students and seeing everything that happened there and how the after-school rush was handled was impressive. The ability to get everyone treated and in and out in a timely matter was impressive and involved a team effort from everyone that was there. Talking to the students was also fun. I wasn’t sure if they would be open and willing to talk to me since I was new and didn’t really do anything, but they were and hearing what they had to say was interesting and helped make my time feel more worthwhile.