We were all students at one time or another, and then have, or will be, taking the leap to transition to practice. These processes are scary, confusing, and intimidating (just ask me, I not too long ago went through both of these things, even at the same time!). But, those feelings can be greatly mitigated with the help of unwavering mentors who out of the kindness in their hearts take us under their wings and show us “the way”. This is the process of socializing to the profession and is highly important to a successful time as a student and in transition to practice (for more info on this, be on the lookout for an awesome publication highlighting the significant parts of this…may or may not be a personal plug here on my research project for my doctoral program ;)). Beyond transition to practice, having an ideal socialization prepares us to have a healthy and prolonged career moving forward, and who doesn’t want that?
When I was a student and then in my transition to practice, I feel that I was socialized well to become an athletic trainer. I was able to learn the hard skills that I needed to be a successful healthcare provider, I was able to observe and practice professionalism in its highest form, the struggles of the profession were not hidden from me, and I was continuously discovering the importance of networking. Things were not handed to me, I was challenged to figure things out and take initiative myself to create my own journey and path, which has truly made me more successful and a head above the rest. This gift of having guidance but not answers that my mentors provided me has propelled my career forward more quickly than I had initially anticipated.
But of course there are things that I also wish I had been taught prior to just jumping in to the profession. What I wish I had learned were potential solutions to barriers I may face and more emphasis stressed to me about the soft skills that I needed to embrace and practice in order to just be a human connecting with other humans. I felt prepared to transition to practice, but when I hit a roadblock, I would freeze and panic a bit before I would figure out what to do. If I had discussed barriers more with my mentors and asked questions about how they would overcome them, I would have been more prepared to take on the giant mountains in front of me, instead of taking time to cower from them prior to my climb. But hindsight is 20/20. Another aside that connects to barriers is self-advocacy. I feel like when transitioning into my first big girl job, I did a decent job of advocating for myself, but I could have pursued this harder! From job negotiations, to stating when I was uncomfortable or needed help from a mentor or needed more training, or even having healthy discussions with my coworkers and support system about my stress and needs; I could have done all of these things just a little bit different with more guidance beforehand. I would also have benefited from knowing and hearing more about the importance of being human. Sounds kind of silly, right? Well it’s not. We take this mindset in our roles as professionals that requires us to be superheroes or something of the like. We hold ourselves to high standards and forget about just being human and the importance of building relationships. Not just networking, or being friendly, but truly making a connection with others. In particular in the healthcare field, people who are seeking your help want a solution to their problem, but more importantly they just want someone to listen and to reassure them and to feel supported; relationship building through connections! And I know this extends beyond healthcare into education, and business, and other fields as well. This isn’t discussed often, but should be! If you are not making connections with others and forming relationships, you can throw everything you learned from a textbook out the window because it won’t matter when your interactions are crappy.
Although my experiences have been positive and I have grown significantly over the past couple of years as a professional, I am fully aware that this is not the same experience that all athletic trainers have; especially when being introduced to a different setting such as physician practice. I am also aware that the socialization process for the physician practice setting looks a lot different than other athletic training settings simply because it’s just that…different and unique.
As I reflect on these ideas more, I know I have a responsibility as a leader. I need to take charge and apply what I have learned and pay it forward! I want to transform healthcare through my hard work, but also want to instill a hard work ethic in others. I want to provide individuals with challenges and offer them guidance but not answers. I want to have the discussions that I did not have with my mentors prior to facing the music myself. I want to take concepts that I have learned in researching transition to practice and educate students and those in the transition to practice process so that they feel more prepared for a successful transition, especially in my given setting of physician practice. I want everyone who is walking into the clinical site I am working at to have clearly laid out expectations so they are able to socialize to our environment. But probably most of all, I want to continuously stress the importance of remaining open to building relationships and that there is more to your profession than the hard and fast skills. Embracing these ideas myself while also offering them up to others will hopefully achieve my mission of being a leader in proper socialization of the athletic trainer to their given setting.
As practitioners in the physician practice, we have a duty to expose the inner workings of our practice to other athletic trainers and students who are interested in moving into our setting. I have laid out my ideas for change and what I strive to do to socialize athletic trainers in my practice… now how will you make change to “pay it forward” to those up and comers in your profession or at your place of work?
Take some time to ponder… we’d love to hear your responses!
Until next time,