SLU AT Clinical Site Spotlight - Athletico and Fenwick High School
By: Conner Mongoven (MAT Class of 2020)
My summer field experience is at Athletico and Fenwick High School with preceptor Tony McCormick ATC. Throughout this experience, I get to be in both a high school athletics setting and a physical therapy clinic. Between these two settings, I get to witness a wide variety of populations with a wide variety of goals. With many athletes, their goals are typically to perform as best they can in their sport, to avoid injury, and to minimize or eliminate the time they sit out due to injury. In the clinic, the patient’s goals very much more. Some are athletically minded as well, but many patients are there just wanting to be able to perform activities of daily living without pain or extra assistance, or to be able to go to work and be effective there without complications.
Being in both these settings adds a new challenge to face having only worked with athletes during clinical rotations thus far in the program. That challenge involves communication. In an athletic setting, many athletes tend to be easily coachable and teachable with regards to the rehab and exercises you put them through. With different populations in the clinic, this isn’t always the case. Many of the patients there aren’t necessarily as exposed to the exercises and environment that athletes are in all the time. This means that there needs to be a lot more attention to detail in the clinic with your explanations, demonstrations, cues, and feedback of rehabilitation exercises. In the position of being in both settings, it is necessary to determine and excel at the techniques that work best in each place and be able to communicate the reasonings and benefits of each exercise to the athlete or patient.
Another aspect of communication is the patient interaction apart from their rehab and exercises. This requires strong interpersonal skills and abilities. In the clinic, it’s necessary to form a relationship with each patient. Forming this relationship builds better trust from the patient and will provide an overall greater outcome of their rehabilitation and experience. With the high school athletes, it is also key to build relationships with them to build trust and create a positive environment for the team as a whole which allows the best care to be provided throughout the whole season. Perhaps the most important consideration in forming these bonds is to keep a high level of professionalism. Being able to understand patient goals and execute the best communication practices leads to successful outcomes across the high school and clinical settings.
Students in the Saint Louis University Athletic Training Program have an immersive field experience in the summer between their two professional years in the program. This blog post details a student's reflection on their experience.