……..Said no Athletic Trainer ever!!!!
So who are athletic trainers and what do they do? According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), athletic trainers are healthcare professionals that are clinically and academically qualified to medically treat patients and clients of all ages in any physical setting. Athletic trainers are part of a team of healthcare professionals; they practice under the direction of, and in collaboration with, physicians.
What is your mental image of an Athletic Trainer? Let’s examine some of the myths and misconceptions about athletic trainers perpetuated in athletic culture:
1. Athletic trainers are glorified personal trainers.
Athletic trainers are recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as allied health care professionals that specialize in the prevention, assessment, immediate care, and rehabilitation of injuries that results from physical activity. Unlike the personal trainer or “trainer” as many of us have been referred as, our primary function is not to prescribe and monitor changes in an individual’s specific exercise program. An athletic trainer is an individual that meets the qualification set by the state licensure and/or the Board of Certification, Inc, coordinating care with physicians and other allied health care professionals.
2. Athletic trainers only work with athletic teams.
According to the NATA, over 50 percent of athletic trainers actually work outside of the school setting. Settings include colleges, professional sports, clinics, the arts, hospitals corporations, industry and military to name a few. Athletic trainers provide physical medicine and rehabilitative services to individuals of all ages not just athletes. Our work settings are continuously growing, but the misconception still remains that we are pigeon holed to the “traditional setting.” AT’s are beginning to be utilized in settings that have not been common to our core. Athletic trainer have the ability to be able to think outside the box and apply knowledge and their skill sets to help everyday people.
3. Athletic trainers just need to complete a basic certificate to practice.
Athletic trainers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, and pass a comprehensive exam before earning an ATC credential. All certified and/or licensed athletic trainers must have a bachelor’s degree from a CAATE-accredited college or university. Unlike personal trainers that may become certified by varying agencies with various requirements, athletic trainers must adhere to professional standards of professional practice set by one national certifying agency (Board of Certification). There is a significant difference in the education, skill set and job duties of an athletic trainer versus that of a personal trainer. Athletic training uses a medical model for professional education that includes both didactic and clinical education.
4. Athletic trainers just tape ankles and hand out water.
Athletic trainers are in high demand because of their ability to multi-task and flexible knowledge regarding varying medical issues. We are trained to deal with chronic and acute healthcare issues while functioning under the supervision of a physician. According to the NATA, “preventative care provided by an athletic trainer has a positive return on investment for employers. ATs are able to reduce injury and shorten rehabilitation time for their patients, which translates to lower absenteeism from work or school and reduced health care costs.”
Commitment: Putting your weight on something to the point of vulnerability. This has been a big challenge for me recently, because most of my professional journey has been pretty formulated up until this point. Going into the profession of athletic training has been something I planned since high school and I pretty much stuck to the plan until now. They teach you a lot of things when you get into your program as an athletic training student, but I realized one aspect that was missing, was the art of branding yourself.
You get the foundation of anatomy, physiology, clinical assessment, as well as the art of building a training room, but what happens when you have hit that ceiling? What happens when that “season” in your life is over and its time for you to reinvent yourself? When you have done your continuing education and have obtained those extra degrees? Now what?
You become vulnerable. Not necessarily in a negative light, but you begin to reassess where you are as you begin to go through this process. Today my Pastor spoke on The Book of Luke, and ones encounter with spiritual growth. He stated that, “knowing that God is going to change something in your life; trust in him and just do.” Thats what I plan to do, just continue to do. Though my journey has been pretty set up until this point, I will get better at committing without certainty. Bore into the experiences and tools that I already have to build into this next phase of my career. As my friend Marc Williamson from Flamekeepers Hat Club always says to me, nothing happens by coincidence. I may not have been directly taught the art of branding, but I have great examples around me to feed from. My advice to anyone at this stage in their career is to be bold and go forward without certainty and see where the journey takes you.
Self doubt will creep into your career at some point in your journey. Let’s be real, at any point in your life. It can be like a bad cold that you get when you least expect it. Brewing in your body over time until all of a sudden you have a fever and you are bed ridden.
You may loose trust in yourself, question the choices that you have made; you may even question your knowledge base. Even with the highest level of degrees and experience, the most successful individual passes through this season at some point in their career. Often self-doubt isn’t self-inflicted, but provided by an outside source. Individuals who feel they have the right to question your abilities and express doubt towards your judgement.
How do you choose to deal with the skeptics? Manage the judgment, criticism or discouragement that tries to engulf you? Recently I came to one of those cross roads in my career where I encountered what you may call “shade” being thrown in my direction. I took a moment to check myself before that situation engulfed me and overwhelmed my psyche. If it was a few years ago, I would have probably unraveled and managed the situation poorly. With experience comes a level of maturity. Maturity also helps you utilize tools that assist facilitating manuvering out of self-doubt. Recently reading an article by tinybuddha.com, she mentioned 5 Steps to Deal with Self-Doubt:
- Ground yourself
- Balance the negative
- Take a break
- Nurture yourself
- Connect with others
With the aforementioned steps I initiate self-reflection with the question, “did you do the right thing?”. The following steps become a little easier when the first question is resolved, then the rest is less unsettling. Within the profession of athletic training there will always be individuals that will question your judgment (players, coaches, administration, etc..), but first and foremost doing the right thing should always be priority on your list. One thing I have learned is that when push comes to shove you have a better argument when you cover that bases first, knowledge and experience will get you even further.
What tools are in your tool box when you begin to wander to the dark side?
“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac
First let me start off by saying Happy New Year and thank you God for the opportunity to be apart of another golden year. While thumbing through the “Gram” I came across this statement that really resonated with why I started this blog in the first place. Its honestly been a struggle to stay organized with my posts, as well as come up with content that I feel is relative to the audience that I am speaking to which is you.
The truth of the matter is that I do want to inspire people and I am thinking entirely too hard about what I naturally have been doing in my everyday work. Now this is not an expression of conceit, but humbled honesty.
I recently was blessed to reconnect with a former student athletic trainer of mine from FSU and spend time with her, catching up on her current endeavors. Though I was sad to hear she had left the clinical side of the profession, she decided to jump into academia and impact those less fortunate in the south Florida area. I was so inspired as we talked about the lack of opportunity many of her students had and how she felt obligated to continue to push them to be the best that they could be. Her struggles with inequality and lack of opportunity as a Black American graduate student ATC made her realize that her talents would be better beneficial somewhere else. After she graduated she decided to become an adjunct professor.
My former student took a pause in the conversation and told me that she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell me that she was so proud of what I had accomplished, especially being a black female with her doctorate and still practicing athletic training. She said that she hoped that I would continue to keep inspiring and hopefully make my way into the classroom. I wanted her to know that she continued to inspire me as well and I look forward to having the opportunity to inspire more students such as herself.
God has put me in this place for whatever reason, and I look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead in this year. As the scripture continues to tell us to not get in the way of “His”plan, I will try my best to not over think this process and do what comes naturally.
Happy New Year
About a month ago I had the opportunity to be a panelist for the Health Professionals Panel at my recent alma mater Teachers College . It was an honor to speak to fellow students and entrepreneurs about my experience in the health and wellness industry. I was given the platform to speak on how my degree from TC helped to achieve my goals as well as provide guidance and advice on employment outlook and usefulness of their degrees.
The novelty has still not worn off to be invited to speak on panels about my journey because I know how it felt to be on the other side of the spectrum hanging on the words of experts when I was a student to help create the path that I am currently on today. I was honored to sit on a panel that provided me the opportunity as well to engage with individuals such as myself that came from a wide-range of health care fields, still traveling on their career paths.
I look forward to these opportunities because I never know who I may touch or influence why telling my story, and hopefully provide that cue or spark to keep someone pushing towards their light. Sometimes you just need a spark of hope to know that the journey may not be easy, but it can be well worth it in the in. I pray that I can can be that for someone.
I recently had the amazing opportunity through Columbia University Athletics to attend the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) rally.
The First-Time Attendee Workshop was an essential space that I was able to better understand what NACWAA was about and all of the resources that were available to its members. Prior to attending I honestly knew little about the organization, but gained a greater appreciation for the resources that I previously was unaware of. Many of which I know will help me better in my professional journey.
The NACWAA group provided us with an awesome platform of keynote speakers including:
1. Amy Cuddy: Social Psychologist, Harvard Business School & Public Health Associate Professor
2. Sarah Robb O’Hagan: Executive, Activist and Entrepreneur
3. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour: America’s first African American Female Combat Pilot
Each speaker provided an intricate way of highlighting the trending themes of the rally: (1) be your authentic self, (2) be present, and (3) uplift other women. One statement that stood out from Amy Cuddy’s presentation was, “When you are not present, you hide your competence and your warmth.”
The workshops allowed us to explore many areas of collegiate athletics such as revenue generating, working with your campus community, analytics application, work-life balance, and student-athletes welfare, as well as many others. Within the student-athletes welfare workshop I appreciated how Oregon State University applied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to how they structure their holistic approach to student-athlete wellness within their apartment. So
mething that I look forward to exploring a little more to hopefully apply certain tools presented within our department.
All and all the opportunity to be apart of this event and to be in the presence of some of the most influential women in our setting, as well as the men that came to support these women was a pleasure. I look forward to getting more involved in the organization and plan to attend the NACWAA Leadership Symposium. I welcome the opportunity to further develop my leadership in intercollegiate athletics and administration, as well as enrich my skills and expand my network.
I hope that more women take the opportunity to be able to attend this rally and be exposed to such great resources such as I was. I look forward to sharing my experiences and resources that I attained from this experience. Continue reading
At least 3x a week I have the pleasure while driving to work every morning, to catch up with one of my best friends Lauren Bullock and talk shop. She is almost like my real life diary where I bounce ideas and current events off of her with no filter, as she does the same. At the end of the the day we are always striving to be honest and truthful with each other. The core of our discussions always seem to magnify our common theme: life long learning and how this will shape our path in reaching our goals and dreams.
Today I had both the pleasure of talking shop with Ms. Bullock as well as attending a speaking engagement with my Men’s Basketball team led by Kevin Eastman, former VP of Basketball Operations for the LA Clippers. I always say nothing happens by coincidence, and attending this engagement was an example of that.
His words resonated in that he, as well as I, are on a journey of learning on how to get to that next level. Mr. Eastman stressed that surrounding yourself with successful people and learning from the best is the common denominator in this life long journey of learning. Even as we gain this knowledge, we still will never know it all, and have to humble ourselves to continue learning. We need to understand that we are going to make mistakes, just strive to make new ones. I pride myself on not being a know it all, but have always been motivated to learn more. Are you a know it all or a learn it all?
For seemingly obvious reasons I thought what word could I play on that people relate to the profession of athletic training. For many, athletic trainers have always been the experts for taping ankles, though as professionals we know our skills run the gamut. Since traveling on this allied health journey, I always seemingly return to my original passion of being a resource to educating individuals on best practices in regards to their health, wellness and preventative tools in their active lives. It took a minute to figure out the acronym break down for T.A.P.E, but soon Taking Action with Preventative Education was born.
Hello and welcome to TAPE: Taking Action with Preventative Education . My name is Dr. Ajaya Williams and I am a recent graduate from Teachers College doctoral health education program as well as a certified athletic trainer currently working for Columbia University for the past 1o years with athletics. I decided to start this blog to share my journey as a female athletic trainer in NYC, while promoting my passion for educating about health, wellness and injury prevention. My goal is to create a platform to help me overcome my insecurities, set aside my self-awareness and connect with my viewers…… which is you. So thank you for allowing me to indulge in your time.