The other day I was driving back after a physician’s visit that didn’t go so well, and I remembering thinking of how having to constantly give athletes bad news would be kind of depressing. It wasn’t until after that thought was said out loud I realized in a sense we have to do that as athletic trainers as well. If we are required to do that why did I think the two scenarios were so different? The answer…Professional disconnect from the patient. The physician doesn’t deal with the patient on a daily level and the rapport that they build is built solely on a professional level of trust and comfort. This is the same kind of rapport that we should strive to have with our athletes. I believe the reason we don’t quite make the distinction has a lot to do with amount of contact and our age as young professionals. We work to build great rapport as new practitioners and inadvertently our line between friendship and professional relationship becomes a hazy line.
So how do we fix this and demonstrate our professionalism? I think it starts with setting specific guidelines for things as simple as communication. Not allowing phone calls or contact by any means after a certain time, unless impending emergency. If you happen to be spending a night out and you see an athlete you shouldn’t go visit them and see how their night is going. This seems trivial to even say, but we all know it has happened and most of have been in that situation before. There is a lot of talk on the importance of work-life balance and I believe it ties into professional disconnect as well. When we are able to have a healthy disconnect from our athletes the personal life doesn’t seep into the relationship built we will be held to higher standard. I believe this is a simple yet necessary step for us as young professionals to assert ourselves into the athletic training community and to make a step in the future of our profession.
Austin Krause LAT, ATC