Athletic training, M.S.
Why did you become an athletic trainer?
I’m into puzzles. As a strength coach or weightlifting coach you can see malposition while approaching the bar, or kettle bell or even a swimming pool. One can see objectively that something is immediately wrong. I wanted a challenge, and I wanted something that would continually challenge me to develop a way of thinking that was deeper than what you could see. You cannot always see pain. Sometimes pain is caused from a chain reaction of various joints, structures and compensatory movements that may not be apparent at first. Insidious pain is sometimes where an athletic trainer makes their living.
How did you get where you are now?
Before attending CBU I was a strength and conditioning coach and weightlifting coach for MMA, USA Synchronized Swimming and private athletes/gyms. I did this job for about 3 years, developing programs and guidelines for fully functional athletes and rehabilitating athletes alike. After graduating from CBU I promptly left for Texas to work with an independent professional baseball team in Amarillo, Texas where I remained for one season. Once the season was completed I returned to California to begin a short-termed contract position with USA Synchronized Swimming, before being hired on with Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Sports Medicine and Reconditioning Team.
What are your job responsibilities?
Currently my job is to prepare U.S. Marines and U.S. Sailors for pre-deployment work-ups and post-deployment rehabilitation. Additionally, I am responsible for the “return to full duty” protocols for all acute and chronic cases that may be associated, or not associated with a deployment, i.e. company PT, Battalion ruck marches. Conversely, one of the clinics I am attached to is responsible for all of the injuries from the School of Infantry. Where if a student “falls-out” of an evolution during this training phase it is our job to return them either to the course, or out of the U.S. Marine Corps. On occasion, I will get attached to company physical training evolutions for a review of procedures and progressions, as well as, unit ergonomics while at their desks or work-stations.
What do you love about your job? What keeps you coming back?
My position with the U.S. Navy continually challenges me to think “outside the box.” When looking at the variety of patient population, coupled with mechanism of injury, i.e. IED blasts or a fall during a HALO jump, one cannot become stagnant in further learning. I enjoy this aspect as it continues to push me to develop weak links in my evaluation and programming skills. Additionally, I enjoy the relationships I am afforded through my interactions. Some of the best, most authentic people are those who have trudged through significant tribulations and claimed victory. These stories confirm my purpose to work as hard as I can for those in need.
What is the toughest and/or least favorite part of the job?
The least enjoyable part of my job is the volume. Often times we see so many patients in a day that I find myself having to extend treatment sessions out several follow-ups. This process slows their progress and forces me to rush, therein hindering overall success.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. where all of my appointments are scheduled within those hours (which is nice for an AT). On Mondays and Thursdays I run the “acute” clinic from 7:30–10:30 a.m., and the “Return to Full Duty” class Tuesdays and Thursdays 3–4:30 p.m. In between these classes I see a patient every 15–20 minutes; excluding my evaluation slots, which are 30 minutes. My lunch is typically from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., where I exercise and try to decompress from the morning.
What are the similarities/differences between your setting and traditional AT?
Most aspects are the same. The only differences are: time with the patients, MOI, duration of symptoms, scheduled appointments, and for the most part, funding. As you can imagine, DOD funding is rather good.
What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?
“Discipline equals freedom.” I heard this from a patient referencing former Navy SEAL Commander Jocko Willink about living and working. To me, it made sense. By being disciplined at work, school, health, etc., you truly gain more freedom. Freedom could mean more trust, more time, more money or more responsibility. As you remain diligent and steadfast in pursuit of purpose you can achieve your goal, regardless of the “static” around you.
What was the toughest part of your academic experience in the ATEP and how did this
Time management—I’m sure everyone already knows this, or is learning this now, but time is valuable, and even more valuable when you have less of it (or so it would appear) and need to do more. These time management skills parlayed idyllically for my proceeding positions; learn them and trust the process. Sometimes hard work is all you have—make it your friend.
What was the best learning experience or most difficult moment of your clinical field
experience in the ATEP?
My best learning experience was when I rotated to the University of Redlands and was helping with track. A patient walked in with the same “hamstrings strain” that he had every year around the same time since transitioning to sprinting. At this point I could have repeated the same treatment my predecessors used, or go out on a limb and use something new. I chose a different path, and it paid off. This decision initially was of course met with some resistance from the preceptors, but if I knew a better way (hoping it was better) then why not use it? I figured if I messed up then I would eventually know what works and what does not work. Based on fact, not fear.
Is there any advice you would share for current ATS/young professionals?
Know you’re going to mess up, get behind in your work, be late, be tired, get mad, not know the answer, look foolish at least once during your tenure in the ATEP … So what? As the Word says: “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange is happening to you,” 1 Peter 4:12. Although this Scripture is referring to suffering for Christ, it still rings true for you. All of us have experienced what you are going through, or will go through. Take a firm grip and keep going. You’re a family brought together with a purpose.