July 05, 2015

SLU AT Student Gets a Rich and Varied Experience at Nationwide Children's Hospital

SLU AT Summer Field Experience Spotlight - Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
By: Rachel Spika (SLU MAT Class of 2016)

This summer, I have the privilege of being a pediatric sports medicine athletic training intern for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. Under the direction and supervision of thirty certified athletic trainers and twelve physicians, I work in the Sports Medicine Department, housed within eight outpatient clinics in the greater Columbus area. I rotate between clinics throughout the week, as do the athletic trainers and physicians on staff. Rarely does anyone work in the same clinic every single day. Sports Medicine clinics are either concussion clinics or musculoskeletal clinics, and there we can see patients as young as five years old up through those that are in their twenties. I would say that the majority of patients we see, however, are adolescents.
Although all of the staff athletic trainers contribute to my learning, my official preceptors are Meredith Dotson, MEd, AT, ATC, and Ashley Minnick, MSAH, AT, ATC. They both have been incredibly welcoming and have scheduled me in clinics that will expose me to a wide range of sports-related injuries and conditions. They also make it a priority to give me learning experiences specifically tailored to my interests and goals for the summer. Not only are they involved in assigning my learning experiences, but I also get to work alongside them in clinics and when NCH coordinates and carries out PPE’s at Columbus area high schools. I am very fortunate to have preceptors who go out of their way to answer my long list of questions, challenge me with questions of their own, and make sure that I am gaining all of the skills and knowledge I set out to develop and more. 
Up until this point, a typical day for me has consisted of either working in concussion clinic or musculoskeletal clinic under the direction and supervision of a certified athletic trainer and the physician he/she is working with for the day. I am learning how to do everything that a clinical athletic trainer does, and that includes rooming patients, taking their initial history, documenting everything, and then briefing the physician before he/she goes into the exam room. Most of our physicians have let me also go into the room and observe their patient exam. One of my favorite parts has been when the physician shows me how to interpret radiographs and quizzes me on anatomy and what I think the diagnosis may be. I have learned a lot this way, and I have also really enjoyed seeing the physician’s role in patient care.  Once the physician is finished with his/her exam, I get to go back in with the athletic trainer and help fit the patient for any braces, orthotics, crutches, etc. that may have been ordered by the physician. I have also gotten to be involved in helping our young patients learn how to do their home exercise programs and understand how the HEP will help them return to activity pain free as soon as possible.
One of the best parts of this internship is how it provides me with so many extra opportunities to be exposed to different types of athletic health care with the pediatric population. I spend a lot of my free time learning about pediatric sports-related injuries and conditions by reading a binder my preceptors gave me full of research journal articles. The articles have supplemented my clinic learning extremely well. I have also gotten to be involved with performing arts medicine and event coverage as well as specific analysis of swimming strokes, and I have learned how poor mechanics contribute to injuries and slow healing. 
I am really looking forward to the rest of the summer and the learning opportunities it will bring. I get to observe surgery and then spend an afternoon with the radiology department learning how to interpret all kinds of imaging, I am going to be working with our registered dietitian on some sports nutrition projects she has coming up, and in July I will be working alongside other NCH athletic trainers at the Central Ohio Top Gun football camp. Lastly, this week I will begin working in our Functional Rehab, or FRehab, department. It is one of the things I have been most excited to do this summer, and I cannot wait to get started. 

Students in the Saint Louis University Athletic Training Program have a required field experience in the summer between their two professional years in the program.  This blog post details a student's reflection on their experience.

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