December 16, 2012

SLU AT Clinical Site Spotlight - Mehlville High School

Mehlville High School – Home of the Panthers!
By Dre Auclair (SLU MAT Class of 2014)

At the start of this semester, I had no idea what my clinical experience at Mehlville High School was going to be like. Would I be thrown into the fire and feel dumb not knowing anything? Would a sit around and watch and tape the occasional ankle and be a water girl for the most part? Luckily for me neither of those happened. Well maybe the first while blanking doing an evaluation.  This semester was the best experience that I could have ever asked for.  It started off at a great pace with a ton of practice and lots of learning from my preceptor Casey Zielinski ATC and ended with Casey essentially empowering me to make decisions in the athletic training room and seeing what I would and could do.

Dre Auclair (SLU MAT Class of 2014) works with a Mehlville student-athlete doing shoulder strengthening exercises.
My fellow SLU AT student Mary Rhatigan (MAT Class of 2014) and I went from taping ankles, to taping Achilles tendons to splinting displaced fractures, helping prevent an athlete from going into shock, helping with rehab protocols, writing soap notes and ultimately creating my own rehab programs for athletes and enhancing them as the athlete’s progression advanced. Never in a million years would I have thought that within a couple months of entering the professional phase of the SLU AT Program, being an official Athletic Training Student, would I be evaluating an injury and deciding on the best rehab protocol for that athlete and following them through return to play and after.

I owe so much gratitude to Casey. I think that she is the reason that I was able to thrive in the setting, learn so much and have the ability to set myself apart and design my own programs based on my own research. Casey challenged me to think outside the box, encouraged me when I was struggling and praised me when I did something really well. Having had such an incredible preceptor who I idolize as an athletic training professional, I fear that I may have blinders on in my future sites with my expectations of all my preceptors being just like Casey. I know that this is not the case, but having had such an incredible experience, moving forward will be hard but will also be a great learning experience.

Dre performs an ice slush treatment with one of the student-athletes in the Mehlville AT Room.
Not only am I grateful for such an incredible preceptor, but also a fantastic athletic director, coaching staff, and group of athletes. Gaining the respect of all of these individuals is a lesson I will take with me through life. Having built great professional relationships with all of them, I am confident in my future athletic training student endeavors. Being an athletic training student at Mehlville also allowed me the opportunity to come in as a guest speaker and teach an athletic training class how to tape ankles, the ligaments ankle taping supports and work with the students to practice taping on each other. The athletes at Mehlville, especially, are a great bunch of students who are tremendously grateful for the work put in to help them get back on the field or court.

SLU AT students Dre Auclair and Mary Rhatigan were profiled in Mehlville's school newspaper.
At the end of it all, I would have to say that the most gratifying moment in my clinical experience was with a freshman girls’ basketball player who I took through the evaluation process of a syndesmotic ankle sprain, designing my own rehab program for her, taking her through the program and making it tougher as she progressed and getting her back on the court. During a break in one of her practices following her return to play, she ran up to me and was very thankful for everything I had helped her with because she no longer had any pain playing running and felt 100% better. I look forward to many more experiences like that one. 

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.

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