So what do you do? Internships I do not believe are not the route to go however, we have allowed job setting specializations to creep into the AT workplace and which has gotten us into the position we are in now. When change is the desire, this can lead to a frustrating end when your previous experiences do not meet up with a job that is viewed as a potential place of employment just because you have not previously worked that sport at that specific level.
Employers are seeking people who have had previous experiences with a specific sport and division because they believe this previous experience is what is best and the easiest transition. Many people forget that with any job there is a time of adjustment to each new school and policies. How is this adjustment time any different than that of a previous high school AT transitioning into a position at the collegiate level? When one has to cover a sport that is not previously known, this is a great time to learn! Sport techniques and positions can be picked up and understood enough for patient care by watching as well as this gives the AT a great position to talk to their new coaching staff and showing them that they desire and are eager to learn more about that sport and show that they care. Just as when new evidence suggests a change in practice, we as AT’s and employers need to be willing to adapt and get out of our comfort zones! Why should it matter where or what sport we have worked before?
Let’s think about what Athletic Trainers actually do day to day. Whether you work in a high school or with a professional sports team, AT’s all have the same goal in mind: to get the athlete back to health and competition as safely and quickly as possible. Is an AT who works in the the Division I setting better able evaluate and treat an ankle sprain than an AT in the Division III, high school, clinic, or military setting? I think we can all agree the answer is no. Yes there may be quicker access to referrals and additional “tools” available at jobs with larger budgets but a competent AT is a competent AT no matter the practice setting. Let's work to get out of this cycle we've put ourselves in!
Beth Neil LAT, ATC