The respondents perceived their value was diminished and that they were subject to everyone else’s’ commitments to time/schedules. We suggest you take that right back!
Secondary school athletic trainers all can sympathize with each other when our line of student-athletes extends around our athletic training room or potentially out the door. At times, the goal is to “just” get them out the door and on their way to practice. But is this method truly effective in providing patient-centered care to each student-athlete? Probably not. Athletic trainers have become so good at quickly diagnosing injuries (accurate or not) that we lose sight of holistic care for our patients. What about the patient that struggles with confidence following return to play or the student-athlete that has returned to sport participation but still cannot ride their horse because they can’t get on it? There are infinite details often missed because we allow time to dictate our care.
After learning my current practice was not working, I (Mulder) slowly implemented a system to “schedule” patients for a specific “injury evaluation time” for injuries that are non-emergent. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have “injury evaluation time” for the first hour after the school day ends. I schedule patients in approximately 15 minute increments depending on the possible injury. When scheduling this time, I have found that I am less likely to get interrupted. I have more focus on that particular patient. In addition, the patient feels appreciated and so far, more compliant. The patient education is clear and coherent, not broken up into bits and pieces while trying to multi-task several patients at once. Would I say that this process has been a perfection solution? No. Despite noticeable benefits there have been hiccups along the way as student-athletes adapt to the change.
The most obvious criticism to this approach is likely face-time at practices. Despite that, the benefits outweigh the costs in that my patient care is improved. Immediate care for acute injuries is important; however, waiting for something bad to happen is an inefficient use of time, particularly in a day and age where immediate communication and accessibility are possible through telecommunications. In a day of technology and cell phones, athletic trainers are available at the touch of a screen, and in a situation of one athletic trainer caring for several teams, these resources are vital.
This approach may not be ideal for every secondary school athletic trainer. Nevertheless, it is something to consider weighing a variety of issues, RISK being the most important (weather, coach education, transportation and immediate access to facilities, etc.).
When you think about other healthcare providers (MDs, PAs, PTs, OTs, etc.), consider how much time they spend with each patient? It’s a whole lot more time than the 2-3 minute time span we often spend with a student-athlete. The athletics environment is unique and something most of us chose the profession for, but it does not have to dictate the quality of patient care. Continuing to allow other stakeholders to dictate our clinical practice is our own fault and we have the right to take that time back, for ourselves and for our patients.
-Evan Mulder, ATC (DAT Class of 2017)
-Katie Calvery (PAT Class of 2017)
Source: Bowman T., Mazerolle S., Goodman A., Career Commitment of Postprofessional Athletic Training Program Graduates. Journal of Athletic Training. 2015:50(4):426-431.