Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Athletic Training Services. Not, Athletic Training Servants

By: Joel Luedke*

*I'd like to make sure there is an understanding that not every situation is one that can fit the narrative below. There are a lot of situations and a lot of athletic trainers that have worked hard to create a work space that allows them to be their professional self and not feel at the control of common else. This post is meant to try and help empower those that may not feel they have that control at this time.

It is a typical day in the athletic training center. People are running around to get everyone ready for their practice or event. This person needs a hot pack, can you stretch them out, wait, that's not how you do that rehab exercise. Another athlete walks in and proclaims "I need this *insert request/command here* done. Where is *so-and-so* to do it?" No please, no thank you, just the statement.

Whether it be a student or staff that goes running over there, they don't say anything about how the approach was made, they fulfill the request and move on. What really just happened here though? Are we ok with how that just went down?

There has long been a honorable desire of athletic trainers to be part of the team and do what they can to help the team/organization win.There has also been a long-held tradition in the "athletic model" that athletic trainers answer to coaches and their sports demands. 

Thinking about these interaction and further reflection of what conditions people in 'service' professions work within, I think a phase shift may be worth looking into.

When someone needs a service, they seek that service out. They see what the availability of that professional is and set up an appointment to get their expertise to help them out with a problem. Athletic trainers are fantastic at being available and being able to lend their expertise to a lot of people in a very condensed period of time (yes, pre-practice). Does that eventually put us in a precarious position that can be difficult to get out of?

How often are your services requested? From an administrator, a coach, an athlete? Do they check to see what might work for you and your schedule. That includes not just your work schedule, what about your family life? As a profession we are extremely flexible and able to adapt to what the schedule brings and our significant others and families try to understand and adapt with us. This happens regardless of the stress it might bring.

As a profession I think it is important to not lose sight of what we bring to the table. We can continue to be team players yet have some control over our professional lives. This may not be attainable for all right away and that can be difficult but we always have a choice. We have the ability to change things or we can remove ourself from that situation. Don't lose sight that we have the ability to say "no" and that we are a service and not just a servant to the needs of the remainder of a department or organization. 

Know your worth, believe in it and allow yourself to continue in the profession you love.

Ideas to Help:
+None of these are just as easy as saying the, I understand this, it took several years in my current role to understand the importance of this concept and build the relationship with the Director of Athletics to demonstrate the worth and needs of Athletic Training Services.

Work to begin Asked, not Told
+A seemingly simple request that we made is that if there was going to be a significant change to a schedule that we be included on the front end of the conversation to see the viability of making the change for everyone's schedules. This allows for a chance for input and to be part of the process, not just being told when something has changed.

Remembering we work WITH not FOR the Coaches
+Working off the point above, we should NOT be answering to a coach and making that very clear in the process is important. They can request your services, not tell you when to be there. If you aren't able to cover or the request comes in really late...

We have to be comfortable saying NO.
This part is hard, and honestly it sucks some times. It is necessary though. I've been trying to learn that "no" is both an answer and explanation and one that has to be said at times or it loses value. We are all adaptable and make concessions for instances but we also are professionals that have this ability to say "no" and need to use it from time to time.

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