Tips and Advice for your First Athletic Training Job
Starting your first job as an athletic trainer can be both exciting and frightening but there are some things you can do to make that first job easier. In this post we’ll look at some tips and advice for your first athletic training job.
Pay attention and ask for help
One of the most important things you can do in your first job is to pay attention to what others tell you and to ask for help when you’re unsure of something. No one expects you to know everything but asking for helps show you are willing to learn and do things the right way. Paying attention also means you are less likely to make mistakes because you didn’t know what was expected of you. Successful athletic trainers are willing to ask for help when they need it.
Being professional is like having integrity – it’s what you do when no one is watching that is often the most important. Being on time for work (or coming in early), staying behind to finish up rather than racing out the door, dressing and acting appropriately at all times, maintaining accurate records, and helping others without complaint are all signs of a professional athletic trainer.
Be great at what you do
You don’t have to be perfect but working hard to master your skills goes a long way. Master your taping, learn to massage correctly, keep your equipment bag/cupboard fully stocked, keep accurate records – all of this creates the impression that you are serious about your job and want to do the best you can. Keep up to date on the latest topics and research in athletic training and sports medicine. Ask questions and learn from the training staff and team physicians.
Being disorganized is never good but when you are working in an environment where decisions need to be made quickly or delays in treatment can cause further injury, being disorganized can be a disaster. Keeping your athletic training kit fully stocked with the most common equipment you’ll need, and knowing where to find the correct paper work can make all the difference when treating an athlete and talking to coaches or parents or other medical staff.
Get to know others
Building relationships is important in many professions. By getting to know other ATCs and sports medicine physicians in your area and building strong, positive relationships with coaches and health professionals, you’ll not only have people you can learn from, you’ll also have contacts you can refer athletes and their parents to when needed.
Find and be a mentor
Finding a mentor, especially in your first athletic training job can be invaluable. Experienced athletic trainers have a lot of advice to pass on and can often show you alternative methods that you can’t learn in school. Another option, especially if your first job has you working alone is to find a student to mentor. This is a great way to further your skills (you learn a lot when teaching someone else), and gives you a second pair of hands when things get busy.
Continue to learn
There are more ways to learn that just completing your required professional development. Volunteering in addition to your job, mentoring, asking questions from experienced athletic trainers, and watching others work are all valuable ways to continue to learn and enhance your skills and knowledge as an athletic trainer. Keep up to date with podcasts like Sports Medicine Podcast or AT Podcast
Your first job as an athletic trainer can be a daunting experience but with these tips and advice, your transition from student to professional athletic trainer in your first athletic training job can be a lot smoother and more enjoyable.