Last week I had the opportunity to be a member on a panel of athletic trainers in the physician practice setting discussing our practices with students from Moravian College. I am always excited to share my experiences with students, especially experiences within our specialized area of practice, however this discussion was particularly exciting to me. Between the students and panelists we were able to discuss many topics that got me thinking about the future of our practice setting….which is bright! All of our roles in the physician practice are diverse and continue to become more diverse with time as we are able to expand our scope of practice to new areas, which is refreshing and particularly exciting to many students.
However, in order for the future to continue to be bright for us, we need to continue offering our support and mentorship to students (and even our colleagues in the profession), as I feel there are many questions and insecurities from individuals wanting to work in physician practice settings. There are several outlets for us to provide our support – offering to be a clinical placement site/preceptor, presenting at conferences and in classrooms, actively being involved in practice groups promoting and improving our practice setting, and the list goes on. As we are going about sharing our experiences, I do believe there are certain areas that we should highlight. I’ve provided three of my top suggestions below, based on what I gathered in my recent panel discussion. These suggestions are only the beginning and may vary from place to place and discussion to discussion, however I think they are important to keep in mind.
- Reiterate the importance of building strong relationships with coworkers and interprofessionally – We come out of school with a whole breadth of information and we want to use it all immediately, however before we can truly use all of this and apply everything into practice we need to start with a strong foundation. This all centers around building relationships. We need to gain the trust and respect of our coworkers and interprofessionals that we work with within physician practice settings, and this starts by being human and making a connection.
- Provide tangible examples of your value – Advocating for yourself by demonstrating value is highly important, but you do need examples to back this up. Don’t just say that you increase efficiency and increase revenue opportunity, find research to back that up, or even better begin by marketing yourself as being able to do these things then gather your own data or information and keep track in a spreadsheet everything you are adding to a physician’s clinic.
- Approach situations with confidence – There will be several times where you may not know the answer to something or other healthcare providers or patients will make comments out of not having an understanding what role athletic trainers play as healthcare providers, both of which can be defeating if you let them be. If you hold your head high and flip the situation to be an opportunity to educate others and yourself, the whole situation will become more positive and the response from all parties will be much better.
As I said, this is only the beginning…what are some of your suggestions for a brighter future? Please share, as we can all benefit from the shared experiences and mentorship!