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Friday, May 20, 2016

Guest Blogger: Katie Scott

     The SWATA Blog is glad to introduce this month's guest blogger, Katie Scott. Katie Scott serves as the National Athletic Trainers' Association Athletic Trainer in Residence. She has provided us with a look into her role at the NATA office. Thanks Katie!

     I was honored to be asked to write a blog post regarding my experience at the National Athletic Trainer’s Association office as the Athletic Trainer in Residence. The past 11 months has truly been a life-changing experience, professionally and personally. I wanted to use this opportunity to share with you my experience as well as share a little bit more about myself. 
     Prior to joining the NATA staff, my career was entirely spent in the Division 1 collegiate setting, mostly focused in the Midwest region. After graduating from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and completion of an internship at ESPN in Orlando, Florida, I attended Michigan State University and earn my master’s degree from its CAATE accredited post-professional program. I chose to attend a post-professional program because I wanted to expand my clinical skill set beyond the basic training I received in my undergraduate education, specifically with manual therapy and holistic medicine. Following graduate school, I accepted a one-year post-graduate internship at Northwestern University. Though I felt prepared to excel as a full-time staff member following graduation, the opportunity to intern at Northwestern gave me an even smoother transition to practice. I experienced firsthand the expectations of a full-time staff member, including administrative skills, autonomous decision making and professional socialization.  From there, I went on to a mid-major Division 1 university, and while I appreciated my time there, I did not want to pass on the opportunity to come to NATA. 
     Two of the more frequent questions I’m asked while networking with members are: why did I transition from a traditional setting (collegiate/university) to the non-traditional setting of association management and what are my day-to-day activities?
     I saw coming to NATA as a unique opportunity in twofold. First, it expanded my opportunity to network with my peers on an international platform. This to me was priceless enough. Second, I was already seeking opportunities to give back to the profession, and saw coming to NATA as a way to be able to gain a high-level vision of all the different initiatives and programs already happening of which I could be a part. Little did I know I would find a niche between balancing my background as an athletic trainer and applying that to association management; but it truly has become a passion of mine and I enjoy exploring ways to combine the two worlds to bring the membership opportunities for growth and professional development.
     Being the sole athletic trainer in the office, I provide a day-to-day understanding of what ATs do. This includes viewpoints on current practices, medical terminology, value in initiatives and assessing potential value for future projects and member benefits. I also act as a liaison to other professional organizations through collaborative efforts toward topics such as youth safety, emergency management, mental health, medical coverage and safety in sport participation. This has been accomplished through meeting planning/attendance, authoring various articles and publications, guest lecturing, task force participation, website development and other program brainstorming. I’ve also had opportunities to be part of the legislative efforts advocating for the profession, and look forward to a successful Capitol Hill Day, held this June in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with NATA 2016– we have all 50 states represented this year and District Six has registered in high numbers. 
     Looking to the future, my goal is to continue to work on my current projects and ideas that will the membership. I’m also looking for opportunities to continue to practice traditionally as an athletic trainer. I think it is important to stay true to who we are as people of clinical service, so with that, if there is ever an opportunity for me to assist at your local event in the north Texas area, please let me know.
     If there is one thing I have observed during my time in this new district, it a strong commitment to serve at all levels, and the pride of being associated with District Six. I have enjoyed getting to know you during various events, and look forward to getting to meet even more of the membership.
     As always, if there is ever a question you may have about a specific topic, or would like to provide feedback (positive or negative) about your membership, please know I’m available. My email is I look forward to, hopefully, seeing you in Baltimore and at the SWATA meeting in July!

Katie Scott, MS, ATC, LAT
Athletic Trainer in Residence - NATA

Friday, April 15, 2016

Guest Blogger: Michelle Vryhof Holt

The SWATA blog is excited to introduce Michelle Vryhof Holt as our most recent guest blogger. Michelle Vryhof Holt is the athletic trainer at Chisholm Trail High School. She is also the D6 NATAPAC Director. She gives us some great insight on transitioning from her role at NATA, as well as the importance of the NATAPAC. Thanks Michelle!

     It has been almost two years since leaving employment in the NATA office. I look back and can hardly believe what an amazing experience it was to pave the way in a new position that became so involved in key projects. I REALLY liked working at NATA and the decision to go back to work in “the trenches” was hard to make. During my time there I was deeply inspired by the SSATC and also empathized with their struggles in the secondary school. All the while, I didn’t feel I could be fully effective in working for this large population of athletic trainers until I had gone through it myself and stood in those shoes. So, I jumped in.
     The transition from full-time office back to full-time AT wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. After many late nights I definitely have missed the regular hours and flexibility. The hot topics like our value, quality of life, perception and support of ATs are all still as real as they are at NATA. However, the perspective I gained helps me do my best to stay positive for the future. The profession is much bigger than one person or group of ATs, but with the same breath there are also so many other ATs out there dealing with similar difficulties. We can’t forget that there are significant resources to help us, both in writing and through people. I am so impressed in what NATA is doing to create tools for us and to support us. I am confident there will be even more great things to come.
     Something else I keep in mind is sincere and grateful appreciation for staff and volunteers within our organization. Amazing things are accomplished because of incredible sacrifices of volunteers, in leadership and grassroots efforts alike. Having seen all of the intricate gears of the association turning from the inside, I can’t ever take for granted the hard work of all our many volunteers and what they help NATA produce.  In addition, we have an outstanding staff at NATA of more than 30 professionals who are contributing as experts in their own field for the operation of our association. They work so hard for us. Having worked with them and built relationships, I can strongly testify for our need to trust them. Our leaders and staff make the best decisions they can to help ATs and our profession.
     For me, this trust ties into giving back to the profession. We give a lot of ourselves in our jobs, but our association needs our support in contributing to the NATAPAC and The Foundation. Donating hard earned money is a leap of faith because you don’t necessarily “see it” once you give or witness the effects of your gifts immediately. But, this act of good will is necessary to keep us moving forward and we have to trust our leadership to do the right thing with our investments. It is hard to ask ATs to give more than they already do, but even a little bit from every member goes a long way.
     I am so thankful for the all the ATs that are willing to continue going above and beyond. I hope you all are able to carry on the good work and “keep the faith.”

Michelle Vryhof Holt, MA, ATC, LAT
D6 NATAPAC Director
Chisholm Trail High School

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Resolutions for the Professional and the Profession

This time of year is always exciting for me.  Not only because the holidays typically bring some amount of time for rest and recovery, although this is certainly a nice perk, but because as the year came to a close there was a time of reflection and looking forward to the future.  Now that the new year has arrived, so have the new year resolutions! The ever famous, I’m going to get into shape this year, lose some weight, by the way I’ve never done well with that one.  The other day however, I had a thought, this year I will make resolutions that will help me professionally and personally.  

As I began to think about this more, I came up with many different ways that I can put this plan to work for me.  Ultimately I want to make resolutions that will help me to improve as a professional and hopefully advance the profession as a whole.  Communication is an area that I feel I am pretty good at, but at the same time, this is an area that I feel can always be better.  Communication is important in so many different ways.  It is important to communicate with co-workers, patients, parents, coaches, other ATs, regardless of your work setting the list can go on and on.  I personally want to improve communication with my co-worker in the athletic training room.  I feel that this can be a huge step toward improving communication across the spectrum.  We already communicate well, but how can we improve on that? For others, maybe it is communication with coaches that could improve, or maybe it is communication with parents.  Regardless, something that I think could be extremely helpful is communicating with seasoned athletic trainers, previous mentors or those who work around you.  There is a great deal to be learned from the past.  Often times we get so caught up in the way things are that we lose sight of where we came from.  Not that change is bad or that new ways of doing things don’t work, but maybe some advice from a colleague who has experienced what you are dealing with could be helpful.

Another area that I thought of is promoting ATs and the profession as a whole.  We all benefit from these efforts, whether it is on the local, state, district or national level.  Something as simple as providing a talk over health and safety to a local little league program, hosting a session on workplace safety, or going to Washington DC for Capitol Hill Day these efforts advance the profession and the professional.  As I was going over this it came to mind that this year I have to renew my application to be recognized as a Safe Sports School.  For those of you who received this recognition the first year, don’t forget to renew in 2016.  This is something that everyone in the secondary school setting can do and the best part is, it promotes you and what you do to ensure the safety of your student-athletes, it promotes your school and the support they provide to you, and it promotes the profession and ATs as leaders in the field of athletic health care.  To find out more about how your campus can become a Safe Sports School, click here.

What better way to give back to the profession of athletic training in this new year than to resolve to make yourself and the profession as a whole better? Regardless of your work setting, resolve to become the best you can be.  It all starts with you, you are the face of athletic training in your community, make us proud.  

Do have some resolutions that you think could impact the profession as whole or you as a professional? Leave them in the comments below.

Josh Woodall; M.Ed., ATC, LAT
SWATA President

Monday, November 30, 2015

Guest Blog: Sports Medicine Broadcast

The SWATA blog would like to introduce the November guest blogger, Jeremy Jackson. In this month’s guest blog, Pasadena High School athletic trainer Jeremy Jackson introduces SWATA members to his Sports Medicine Broadcast. As we all know, athletic training is a profession unlike any other. We are a family. We work together and learn from each other daily. The Sports Medicine Broadcast is the definition of that, and something everyone should hear about. Thank you for being our guest blogger Jeremy.

I started the Sports Medicine Broadcast as a project for my students. I wanted something new, innovative and a way to bring medical professionals into the classroom.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the best at forward thinking or long-term planning; however, this podcast has helped to create great potential for my future as an Athletic Trainer.  If you go back and listen to some of my first episodes like Think Outside The Gym (episode # 4), you will see that the show has greatly improved over time. Listening to the current broadcast you will hopefully notice vast improvements in areas like sound and video quality and interview questions.  
The thing is, though, we all have to start somewhere.  Just like in our work as Athletic Trainers, or as parents, teachers, or whatever we do, we have to START doing it to learn.  I am truly grateful that God has given me courage when faced with risk. I tend to just jump in and figure things out without a fear of failure.  This blog post is another example. I do not write a blog because I am not a great writer, but I am willing to give it a shot in hopes of encouraging others to do the same.

A little more about the podcast:
I have always said we are changing the way Athletic Training education is done. We are currently able to offer CEUs (sponsored by GHATS) for participating in the live broadcast.  We do a show almost every Wednesday during the school year and then sporadically through the summer as I attend conferences.  This summer at SWATA convention I was able to interview Scott Sailor, NATA President.  I was also able to meet several people from around the region who are listeners to the show.  The topics are usually selected based upon something I want to learn or suggestions from you, the listener.  I discussed in episode 186 that I sometimes feel intimidated to ask questions in large groups of ATs in conferences and I don’t want to be that one person holding everyone up.  This podcast is my way of getting everything answered in a way I understand.  If you listen live then you can be actively involved in getting your questions answered, too.  If you are an expert in something contact me and we can discuss you being on the show or start your own podcast or blog.  If it will bring value to the listeners of the Sports Medicine Broadcast then I want to know about it.  Adding value to your practice as an AT is why I have partnered with School Health to give away gift cards each month to podcast listeners.  There is a new password each month so be sure to listen to find out or join the email list.

As technology continues to evolve and provide more options, so does the service I hope to provide all of my listeners.  I am currently working on a way for people to watch the recorded version of the live broadcast and earn CEUs.  This will allow me to continue creating content for ATs to consume on their own time by creating an on-demand learning system specifically tailored for Athletic Trainers.

The best way to keep track of what is happening on the Sports Medicine Broadcast is by joining the email list.  This is the first place I announce topics and registration, giveaways, conferences and schedule changes.  I am also on Twitter often (@PHSSportsMed) which helps to expose me to what is going on in the world of Athletic Training outside of Texas.

I will leave you with comments on the podcast from some athletic trainers you may know:

I had the chance to catch a live broadcast. I have watched several recordings but have never caught a live one. Great job today to all involved. It was a great topic and definitely gave me a lot to think about. I want the SWATA members to know more about your SMB and what a great resource it can be. I thought it was awesome that you can live comment while it is going on. I ended up going back and watching the rest as well. Just wanted to let you know what a great broadcast it was.
·         Catherine Windsor MS, ATC, LAT

The Sports Medicine Broadcast, hosted by Jeremy Jackson at Pasadena High School, has become a fantastic way to discuss relevant situations relating to athletic trainers in a fun and educational way.  The Broadcast discusses topics that are directly applicable to the training room; topics that are not often covered in “traditional” periodicals or journals.  Topics such as “Female AT Struggles”, “Rookie Mistakes” and “Fixing Water Stations” have direct and immediate impact on aspects of our job that are not learned in traditional curriculum settings.  To top it off, you can receive one hour of CEUs for streaming the broadcast live which is made possible by Greater Houston Athletic Trainers Society (GHATS).  If you miss the opportunity to stream the episode live, you are still able to listen to the podcast at a later date.  It has always seemed to me that what we learned in the classroom only accounts for about half of what we do on a daily basis.  The SMB does a great job of discussing all the “other” stuff that we deal with on a day-to-day basis.
·         John Harmon, LAT

Jeremy’s devotion to his students and the Athletic Training community in the Houston area, along with his innovative creativity, has given us something we were lacking: an open, non-restricted bridge between the Sports Medicine community and the experts directly affecting our decisions in caring for the members of our community.
·         Daniel Young, ATC, LAT

Jeremy Jackson, LAT
Pasadena High School
Athletic Trainer

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Reflect, Recharge, Refocus

This past Friday I was doing treatment and taping athletes prior to our game when one of my football players asked me why I listen to music and don't talk very much on game days.  My initial reply was, "I don't know, it's just what I have always done.  I like to focus on game days" As he nodded and continued on his way I stopped and thought about it, why do I do things the way I do? The answer, it's the way I was brought up.  Not by my parents but by my athletic training mentors.  And this is where it got really intriguing to me, I realized that although I never thought about it or planned it this way, I have adopted a series of my different mentors methods. 

When I was in high school, I had the privilege to work under the instruction of Past President and SWATA Hall of Famer Randy Day.  On Fridays, before we would pile into the old BISD delivery truck and travel over to Hopper Field, Randy would close his office door, turn out the lights and simply refocus in the quiet for a few minutes.  During my time in undergrad at Sam Houston State University I worked under Vance Pickard. On games days you always saw him with his Discman (oh how far we've come) in his back pocket with his headphones on.  It was obvious from my experiences that focus was the mantra.  It was respected.  In fact it was demanded.  

Last Friday, when my student asked me why I get so quiet, why I listen to my music and don't talk much, it made me stop and reflect on the way I am and why.  What I ultimately came up with is that in spite of the high paced, always connected society that we live in today, I still yearn for some of the old school focus that was once revered.  This was ingrained in me by my mentors and it served them well.  Today, I continue this practice on a regular basis.  Each game day between the end of school and before I begin treatments I sit in my office with the lights out, without interruption and refocus.  When I begin treatments or while I'm taping athletes I put my earbuds in and listen to music in an effort to keep my focus.  I focus on the upcoming event, the athlete that I need to pay extra attention to for one reason or another, and how an on field emergency will be handled.  I focus on being the best AT I can be and the AT that my athletes depend on me to be.    

As we quickly approach the Thanksgiving holiday I find myself, now more than ever, extremely thankful for my various mentors.  I would not be who I am without their guidance, leadership and example.  As I continue to reflect on my formative years I think of all those who came before me during the formative years of Athletic Training.  People like Billy Pickard, Paul Zeek, Al Wilson, James Dodson and so many others whose mentorship formed this great profession and have guided us to where we are today, I am thankful.  

The few minutes I spent reflecting on this brought back so many memories and took me on a quick yet amazing journey.  But most importantly, it reminded me just how thankful I am for the experiences I've had and the mentors who guided me along the way.  As you spend time with your family to rest, recharge and refocus this Thanksgiving holiday I encourage each and everyone of you to take a moment to reflect on your formative years.  Look back through your experiences and consider why it is you do the things you do.  I hope that you will find the time to let someone who guided and mentored you know just how thankful you are.  

I am thankful for each of you and what you do for our great profession.  I wish you all the best for a wonderful and restful holiday.

Josh Woodall; M.Ed., ATC, LAT 
SWATA President

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Guest Blog: Living for Zachary

As athletic trainers we are very familiar with sudden cardiac arrest and the importance that our profession plays in the chain of survival. We know the importance of having quick access to an AED. The SWATA blog would like to introduce the October guest blogger, Ashlyn Wren. In this month’s guest blog Living for Zachary program assistant, Ashlyn Wren, has introduced us to the organization called Living for Zachary.  This organization had a booth in the Billy Pickard Expo Hall at the 61st annual SWATA Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium in Houston this past July.

October brings a month of awareness to many different things; breast cancer, spina bifida, SIDS and one that is very near and dear to our hearts, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness month. A question that many people often have is “What is sudden cardiac arrest?”
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) claims nearly 350,000 lives each year.1  During sudden cardiac arrest, heart function stops abruptly and without warning. When this happens the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the brain and throughout the body, and the result is death for 95% of the victims.
Living for Zachary was founded in honor of Zachary Schrah, who was only 16 years old when he collapsed during a high school football practice in Plano on April 2, 2009. There was no warning. There were no signs. After Zachary’s death, Living for Zachary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established to raise awareness of undiagnosed heart issues in teens.  
Our Mission
Living for Zachary is dedicated to raising awareness of SCA in youth and saving lives through community education and awareness events, promoting youth heart screenings, awarding student scholarships and donating automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to youth-based organizations.

Below are links to two stories on youth students who were saved by an AED and a Living for Zachary Heart Screening.  
Does your school or youth organization have an AED? Do you know how to apply for an AED through Living for Zachary? To find out more click here.

1. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics – 2012 update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125(1):e2-220.

Ashlyn Wren
Program Assistant
Living for Zachary

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Step Out and Help Out - Grow the Profession Together

As the profession of Athletic Training continues to grow and evolve we all feel the growing pains from time to time, regardless of our individual practice setting.  As an AT in the secondary school setting I struggle regularly these days with the expectation, or at a minimum, desire from parents and coaches that I be not only available but onsite for every practice and event.  Unfortunately this is simply not possible with only two staff athletic trainers responsible for the healthcare of 800+ athletes participating in 15 sports and over 50 teams.  But the word is out, athletic trainers are an important if not vital aspect of athletic participation.  This is great, however despite the knowledge and sentiment, staffing formulas in this practice setting have not caught up with the times, thus we struggle.  

This is true of every practice setting in some form or fashion.  I hear stories from my colleagues in various settings of their struggles.  So the question is, what can or should be done about it? Unfortunately, I don't believe there is one single answer that address every issue out there.  What I do believe, is there are things we can do as individuals that will have a great impact on the profession as a whole and will help everyone.  That said, if we are to accomplish this we must all step out of our comfort zone and think globally.  We must break away from the mindset that if a particular initiative does not apply to my practice setting directly that it is not important for me to participate.

One such initiative is that of every AT getting their National Provider Identifier (NPI).  Many athletic trainers in my practice setting or in other more traditional settings ask the question why.  "Why should I get my NPI? I'm never going to bill for services so there is no need." This is what I mean when I say step out of your comfort zone and look at the global perspective of the initiative.  Seek to understand what is being asked of you.  An NPI number does not mean that you are going to bill for services and there is no requirement that you do anything to maintain your number.  But by getting your NPI number you are identifying yourself as a healthcare provider on a national registry, and this makes a big difference! It makes a big difference when AT's approach elected officials about legislation pertaining to athletic trainers and we promote ourselves as healthcare providers.  Those officials will often ask why so few NATA members have an NPI if we consider ourselves healthcare providers.  This is a hard question to answer.  But how strong of a statement would it make if we walked into that same meeting, introduced AT's as healthcare providers and the data supported that statement unequivocally? To apply for your NPI, follow this link and spend a few short minutes to help our profession.

We are all in this profession together, regardless of practice setting.  Growth is great.  If we aren't growing we are dying.  But growth is not always easy, nor is it a comfortable process.  However, if we all work together it can be vastly rewarding.  I encourage everyone to step out of your comfort zone from time to time.  Look around at this great profession and ask what can I do to promote my colleagues and the profession as a whole? If everyone does a little, we will all benefit a lot.  

Josh Woodall; M.Ed., ATC, LAT 

SWATA President