At both the high school and collegiate setting, there exist medical services for students to access anytime they need while on campus. With this system already in place, why are Athletic Training services not being encompassed with these other medical services?
I believe that the medical model is necessary for multiple reasons. First, if we are housed under athletics, our medical decisions are subject to pressure and bias from coaches. This compromises the well-being of student-athletes and forces us to sacrifice job security every time we make an unpopular decision. Check out this story from the Chronicle. (http://chronicle.com/article/Trainers-Butt-Heads-With/141333/)
Those that have moved their athletic training services to the medical model at the collegiate level have had great success. They have experienced increase in salary, manageable hours, and even improved patient care. They achieve these goals by setting clinic hours that they are available to treat patients and/or cover practices. They also classify practices and determine if it is necessary for an Athletic Trainer to be present. Finally, they have enjoyed the communication with other healthcare providers that they are able to collaborate with and share medical records. For more information check out this article from the NATA (http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/Collegiate-Healthcare-Model-Article.pdf)
At the high school setting, Athletic Trainers are often hired by hospitals to work at local high schools. I have seen this model be used in two different ways. In one model the Athletic Trainer is hired by the hospital and assigned to one specific high school. This allows the Athletic Trainer to focus on patient care without being forced to pursue other responsibilities that a person hired by the actual high school might. In another model, the Athletic Trainer is hired by a hospital system to work in the clinic. They are then outsourced to provide game coverage to all high school games in the area. While this might provide an adequate salary and/or work-life balance, patient care may be compromised. Athletic Trainers may come in with no idea what occurred during the week. It almost seems like they are only at these events to provide acute care. Where is the continuity of care?
I believe that Athletic Training needs a balance act between providing high quality patient care and maintaining work-life balance. We need to change the old-school tradition/thought of making ourselves available all day. We need to maintain a close relationship with athletics but we need to remember that we are health care providers. Should we not be employed under a medical network with other health care providers that make up the Sports Medicine team?
Michael Neal LAT, ATC