Disruptive innovation describes innovation that creates a new market or value network that disrupts the current market. This is the idea that current services can be reframed to do something different or for a different audience, which disrupts what is viewed as the “norm”. If we consider where athletic trainers in the physician practice began, it is definitely out of this idea. How cool, right?! But as our sector of athletic training continues to grow, we need to continuously expand on our practice capabilities and offer innovative ideas as to how we add value.


When I attended this year’s ATPPS conference in Boise, I was introduced to many new ideas, and let me tell you, my mind was blown! There are so many different areas where athletic trainers are working that aren’t just orthopedic settings and general medicine. There are ATs working in wound care and limb restoration, oncology, pediatrics, and so much more. The opportunities are endless! What I’ve learned more over the past few months is that if you are willing to advocate for yourself and create a plan showing how you add value and what you can offer, present this information to other healthcare providers, you may just find yourself a position in whatever area of healthcare that you desire, whether there is already an established position there or not.


One area that was briefly discussed at the ATPPS conference was the introduction of athletic trainers to immediate care clinics and emergency rooms. What an amazing idea to advocate for athletic trainers through disruptive innovation! We aren’t typically thought of as healthcare providers for anyone entering an ER with an injury to their muscular or skeletal system, however we are fully equipped for this type of work. What I have seen time and again working in the orthopedic clinic is that several orthopedic injuries are misdiagnosed or missed completely in emergency rooms, impacting patient care and wasting precious time. If there were someone specializing in musculoskeletal conditions both acute and chronic in the ER, more streamlined care could be offered to patients. Who better than an athletic trainer? This is an area of specialty for us that we have specific training in.   Utilizing our services could save patients’ money and time, as well as the ER’s. We could help evaluate patients, educate patients on their conditions, guide them in the right direction for further treatment, as well as splint and brace injuries as needed.


I’d love to hear more about how others are implementing this idea into practice! What has worked, what hasn’t worked? What value do you, ATs in this setting, feel like you are adding? How can we continue to advocate for this? I of course have my own thoughts, but I want to know yours and get some first hand accounts from you all!