I became very confused by her questions relevance to the situation and didn’t understand what would make her so upset about the fact that I wanted to help her daughter. I took a moment to really think about this bizarre conversation. There had to be something that I was missing. And then it hit me. Somehow there had been a misunderstanding about what Athletic Trainers do and why we are working in the high school setting. I took a deep breath and attempted to start the conversation over. I explained to the mother that the Athletic Trainers are available to the athletes in case an injury or an emergency occurs. That while they are on campus or participating in athletics through the high school we are responsible for providing them care or referring them to another health care professional. In the case of needing to refer them, we first will go through whatever insurance the family has or their family physician and then if they do not have a specific request, then they will be able to see the physicians that we work under. By no means are we trying to take the place of their physician but instead we are there to work with the physician in order to provide the best care to the athlete and make sure that it is safe for their children to participate.
Once I was able to explain our role as physician extenders, the mood of the conversation immediately changed. The mother quickly said that in the future her daughter would let us know about any injuries she may have and that she was sorry for the misunderstanding. As we parted ways a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. For the rest of the night I kept thinking about all the different ways that conversation could have gone. Her question about why we needed to be informed clued me in to the fact that despite our efforts as clinicians to educate the athletes and their parents on what it is that Athletic Trainers do, there was still one parent in the stands that didn’t know. This mother was acting in a way as to protect her daughter and make sure that she was properly taken care of. She just didn’t know that her and I were on the same page. And at the end of the day, a little patience and education got us a long way.
-Rachael Kirkpatrick LAT, ATC