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:
While observing PY1 and PY2 students, I got to see first-hand what the next two years of my education as a future Athletic Trainer and clinical experiences would look like. I spent some of my direct observation at John Burroughs High School. The training room and athletic facilities were extremely impressive and went far beyond my expectations of the resources a High School would have. In the two days I was there, I got to see PY1 and PY2, Amra and Kate, work with the athletes in the training room after school before practice and went to a soccer and baseball game. Amra and Kate really seemed to have learned a lot from their preceptor, Dean Tiffany ATC, and from each other. On their last day, the students at John Burroughs were sad to see them go and they definitely seemed to have developed a relationship with the athletes there. My biggest take away was seeing this hands-on guided learning environment that Amra and Kate had experienced here. It got me excited for what was in store for me in the coming years as a PY1 and PY2 student and all that I would learn in clinicals.
During the semester, I was able to learn from PY2 student Gabby Herod and her preceptor Petra Knight ATC. My experience shadowing Gabby was different from most because in some situations, I was apart of the population. As someone who got to spend a lot of time with both Gabby and Petra, we were able to develop a productive relationship that allowed me to learn from them in the most productive way possible. While watching them in action, I was able to learn so much about the different techniques, practices, and procedures that are commonly used in the collegiate setting.
While there were so many tangible skills and practices that I learned while observing Gabby and Petra throughout the semester, there were also intangible lessons and advice that Gabby and Petra gave me that I will always remember. I was honored to learn from two women who have become role models and mentors for the aspirations that I hope to achieve as I continue to learn and grow in the professional phase of the program.
I did my direct observation at John Burroughs High School and Christian Brothers College Prep. I had no expectations going into either clinical site or was just excited to get a glimpse of what it would be like for the next two years in this program. I was shocked to see how much the PY1s and the PY2s could do, and how well they were able to do it. They all were confident in their abilities to assess and aid in recovery for the patients that came to see them. At John Burroughs, there was a patient who came in with knee pain for the first time. Amra was the one who saw the patient first and performed her checklist to determine the cause of pain. After doing some physical examination and performing various tests to manipulate the knee and leg to see which one’s cause the patient pain in their injured area. The diagnosis that Amra was able to come up with was an acute hamstring strain because they had pain where the hamstring attaches to the proximal part of the fibula. It was very educational to see a full assessment and treatment of a patient by a peer.
At both sites, I got to observe some therapeutic modalities being used to treat the patient’s pain. It was interesting to see it used in a real life setting after having just learned about them in MAT 3000. There were a few patients who sat with stim for 20 minutes or had to have a hot pack on the injured area before starting their assigned exercises. One thing that was similar at both sites, was the AT and the PYs were required to observe and assist if needed at various sporting events going on at their school. The sports I observed were baseball, tennis, and water polo. Being able to watch various sports and to see the different roles the AT plays at each game was really eye opening. Even after a couple visits for directed observation, I feel more confident in the fact that I will be able to accomplish all the PY’s have so far when I get a chance to learn at the clinical sites, just like they did.
I really enjoyed being able to complete direct observation this semester at John Burroughs High School alongside a PY1 and PY2. Although there were not many games going on that day, only a JV women’s soccer game, I enjoyed observing and experiencing the atmosphere of the training room. Some of the student athletes were coming in for treatment that they do all the time, and some were coming in with new injuries. It was interesting to see the relationships and trust developed between the PY’s and the athletes they see all the time, and to see how they interact with and assess athlete’s they do not know. While observing how Kate and Amra would assess an athlete coming in with a new injury, I was amazed by how they would palpate, ask the athlete a bunch of questions, and then determine what the next steps would be so quickly. I’m looking forward to being able to examine and determine a course of action in my future clinical experiences as well as connecting with and creating bonds with athletes I’ll be taking care of. I enjoyed my direct observation experience this semester and am looking forward to building up my athletic training knowledge and skills over the next two years during the professional phase.
This semester for me finishing up MAT 3000 was interesting and a big eye opener. I personally could not go observe any PY1s at clinical sites due to my school schedule and work schedule. What I was able to do was get some direct observation hours at the SLU track meet on March twenty sixth. I got to talk to some of the PY1s and the PY2s there and they were really cool about answering any questions the other students and I had. From sharing their experience with gross anatomy to their first clinical site. As well as where they are now and what they plan on doing in the future. It was really interesting seeing how basically everyone has a completely different experience which is awesome and as well just kind of getting an idea of what the next years might look like for me. During the directed observation, I got the chance to see how Athletic Trainers work with other professions and how a multiple event sport was being handled. For example there were ATs at the track field, where all the running events were taking place and the javelin throw. Then across the street there were the hammer throws were taking place and over there were ATs along with EMTs and an ambulance. Where I witnessed ATs working with other professions, was when a SLU athlete was injured and he was brought to the AT tent on a gator by some EMTs. The ATs examined him and saw that he possibly tore his achilles tendon and needed to go to the hospital instantly. The ambulance was too far and it was too complicated for them to get him, so the EMTs on the gator took him since it was right across the street and then came back later and said that he was dropped off and was being looked at. It was interesting to witness how the communication among other professions is important to work together to help someone receive care in the best way possible. Seeing how everyone was working well together and working with speed and precision was impressive and in a way it was exciting to witness this. Overall it was an amazing experience and If this was just direct observation I can’t imagine how I will feel, when I am at a clinical site and doing more than observing.
While I did not participate in any clinical engagement opportunities, I was able to partake in some very fun activities during our classes throughout the semester. I enjoyed going through the multitude of therapeutic modalities. I found them to be quite interesting, especially because there were so many. I think that it is quite amazing how so many different modalities can either aid or impair an athlete or individual just by how we use them. Some of my favorite modalities that we went over heating and icing or testing function through band exercises or balance mechanisms. Because these were partner exercises, I was able to get to know my peers better than I had in the past. Our MAT classes were mostly sitting at the desks and observing the lesson. This time around we were able to do mostly hands on work which was a great experience. My favorite part of this class was actually going over all of the aspects of emergency care. My dad used to be a paramedic and because of that, I have always found emergency care enticing, and so going over concussion testing, CPR, spine-boarding, etc., was a ton of fun for me. This will be the information that I hope to carry over with me into my future profession.
I can only imagine the feeling of anticipation that a high school athletic trainer has as they hear the ring of the dismissal bell in the afternoon. If their training room has the same amount of traffic as the one at John Burroughs High School, then I can imagine the built-up stress. Dean Tiffany ATC works as their head, and only, athletic trainer for a school of about 600 students, who participate in a sport each semester. This makes for frequent visits from kinds across all different sports with varying types of injuries. During my time there, Dean informed me that this means he has to be personable with his students and get to know them so that he can recognize and understand their injuries in relation to their sport. This is most helpful in injury diagnosis and working towards a recovery plan to get the athletes back to peak health.
My afternoon there consisted of the afternoon rush, where students from various sports came in after school to do their treatment with Dean, Amra, and Kate. I could see that this hour after school is a huge balancing act that requires prioritizing and decision-making skills because there are taping, exercises, modalities, evaluations, and stretching that need to be done and administered. After this circus of an hour, we went out to the varsity soccer game and varsity baseball game. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries that occurred, just some minor scrapes and bruises.
I learned from Dean that high school athletic training is all about choosing your battles. There are often times where he has multiple games going on, and he has to choose which one he feels has the greater risk of injury occurrence. That is why we sat at the soccer game for the full duration and then went to watch the rest of the baseball game afterwards. Both were varsity level, which takes top priority, but soccer is higher in contact, so we went there. Another battle that is important to keep in mind when working with high school students is that sometimes their emotions can run rampant. Especially in stressful situations, such as when injured, panic can take over. Often times the demeanor of the athlete can overshadow the injury itself, so it is important to manage the student’s emotions, while working with them to find a diagnosis.
It has been without a doubt anything but a normal semester. I have worked at Chaifetz Arena as a student worker in the ATR since Fall 2018, and these last two semesters are like nothing I have seen before. Instead of the constant conversations between student athletes and the athletic trainers who are providing treatment before a practice or game, it now seems like an athlete will pop in every so often, and then the ATR will go back to being silent.
Though things are not what they used to be in the Chaifetz ATR, all five of the AT’s have done a tremendous job of keep everyone safe. From the mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing, to capacity limits, very efficient cleaning protocols and the constant wearing of masks, the ATR has never felt like a safer or cleaner space. After observing the work this ATR does to keep their trainers, athletes, student workers and everyone in between safe, I feel very comfortable going into my own clinical experience next fall.
This semester I had the opportunity to observe SLU Athletics. I had the chance to observe a track meet here at SLU. Here I was able to get a lot of “gameday” experience, and saw what an athletic trainer does during and how they interact at a meet like this, and the types of things they are responsible for. During this I was able to witness an injury firsthand, and watched how the ATs would manage and handle it. The injury at hand was an Achilles injury, and I watched as they would perform certain tests to see how bad the injury was. It was very interesting to see the trainers go about their tests and work while not overwhelming the athlete at any point. It was a really interesting to see the pre- and post-setup as well that goes into preparing for a track meet.
Throughout my experience at my clinical site, Rockwood Summit High School, I learned about the importance of communication, teamwork, and preparation. At Rockwood Summit the head athletic trainer Tony Mosello MAT, ATC had a walkie talkie that he used in order to communicate with people on different fields. Because he is the only athletic trainer at the school and there are often many games occurring at the same time, it was necessary that there was a plan for communication so that he could get to where he was needed. This communication required teamwork as well because the person on the other end of the walkie talkie needed to know how to go about handling the situation with contacting him, while also giving a brief explanation about what the injury or issue may be.
From observing him in the training room, I saw how he had created an atmosphere where all the athletes felt comfortable and safe. Also, I saw how organized everything was which is important when you need to find something specific in order to treat an athlete in a timely manner. I realized that when you are an athletic trainer, you become part of the athletic family wherever you may be working, and you have to make sure that you gain the trust and respect from the athletes and coaches. I was able to see this at Rockwood Summit. From my experience here, I learned a lot more about the whole role of an athletic trainer, which I did not fully recognize or understand back when I was an athlete.
I spent the majority of my observation experience at Bishop Dubourg High School. I was fortunate enough to observe the athletic training experience alongside fellow PY1 student Mason Cotterel (MAT Class of 2021), who is one of my good friends that I made at my time at Saint Louis U. He provided me with insight about my future and what I should expect in the future with the program. While under observation, I was able to watch high school football, volleyball, and women’s soccer games, as well as practices and behind the scenes care. One thing that amazed me upon arriving at Bishop Dubourg was the size of the athletic training room. I was fortunate enough to see different sizes of athletic training rooms prior to my observation experience.
What I learned from Bishop Dubourg AT room is that sometimes, the essentials are what you need. I watched Mason and the preceptor Nathan Jarman, MAT, CES, ATC, provide interventions with their bare hands. The small atmosphere of the athletic training room allowed AT’s to adapt to the situation and use any method necessary to provide care. What was interesting about the experience was being able to see the bond that Mason had when it came to the athletes. Upon arriving at the high school for the first time, I got to see that bond firsthand, where a fellow athlete was asking Mason about pain in their ankle. We have not made it to the training room yet, and Mason took the time to care for his athletes. This type of engagement that I want to have with athletes is something that I am excited for in the future. One thing that I learned from my experience was muscle and strength management. During the pandemic, there was a big question mark about when will sports be back, especially surrounding high school sports. When I arrived at Bishop Dubourg, a lot of athletes came for treatment and a common theme was not taking care of themselves in the long offseason. I watched Mason and Nate provide treatment and explain to these athletes to take care of their body before the season started. My observation experience provided me with a unique insight into my future with the program and I am looking forward to my future.
This last semester I had the chance to observe both a college and a high school setting. I was especially grateful for these opportunities as I was unsure with COVID if I would get any at all. For my college observation hours I was at a SLU track and field meet. Here I got to see PY2s Maddie and Mellanie work with all kinds of athletes, as track and field tends to be a mix of every type of physical fitness. During my short time there I saw the PY2s respond to an injury and it was super interesting to watch them take over and command the situation. My more extensive observation hours were at Rockwood Summit High School with Maddie Cavanaugh and it was definitely a pleasant surprise. Coming into SLU I didn’t expect to want to work in a high school setting but after my observation hours I’ve decided I want to keep my options open. I really enjoyed the crazy energy of Summit and the relationship the certified AT had with his students. My biggest take away from my observation hours is that while I am still a little scared to start clinicals, I am mostly excited and can’t wait to get started.