Saturday, July 26, 2008

Defining the Profession

I have had a huge response to this blog so far, most of it negative. The reason? The title. I chose the title to give it a homey, unpretentious feel.

Is a name going to be what differentiates us from personal trainers, physical therapists, & chiropractors? Why should someone choose to see an athletic trainer if we are all the same? For that matter, why should an employer choose to hire an athletic trainer over another health care professional? I feel that what defines us is our education.

Unlike the other 3, I have a physical education/teaching background. I've taken motor learning, movement education, adaptive P.E., and coaching courses. This gives me a unique approach to the care & prevention of athletic injuries.

Let's use my previous post on the MCL as an example. I did not get one response that the valgus position of the knee in the 2nd picture was dangerous. I'm sure there are health care professionals who would cringe if they saw it. They would say things like, "You have to keep the knee over the foot! You have to squeeze a ball between the knees to protect the MCL and turn on the VMO!" However, we are certified athletic trainers, and we know better.

We know that in real life, the knee must go there there (look at the soccer player's knee). We know that to strengthen the MCL, we must progressively load it. We know by looking at the picture that my VMO was turned on subconsciously by the lunge & my arm drivers. I don't need a ball- we know the Golgi receptors in my knee communicate with my CNS and tell my L VMO & glute to fire to protect the knee.

Very different from the traditional approach, yes? No "grooving of movement patterns". The ATC wants a knee that is adaptable to all movement patterns, rather than adapted to one.

...and this is how I sell myself, and the profession that I love. For those my fellow ATC's who write me to remind me how unprofessional I am- I refuse to get involved in any name calling. By the work I do, my students are well aware what separates me from the guy down the street.


tom said...

Hey Joe,

keep up the good work, we like this site, and thanks for the new research updates.

T. Thomas, ATC

AT Education Blog said...


I'm sorry you feel attacked.

You are exactly right the folks that see you know what you do, but the general public doesn't. If we continue to call ourselves "trainers" then the public will continue to be confused. I don't see your blog as "selling yourself" as much as promoting the profession. This blog is there for the entire world to see.

Also the title is important, especially for licensure. I also doubt any PT or MD would get done with school and not want to be identified by their correct title.



cyganjo said...

That may be one of the best posts that I have ever read. I've been struggling myself to try to define what seperates the ATC from other Allied Health professionals. I get the privlidge in my job to get to meet and see a lot of ATCs, PTs, MTs, DCs, MDs, and DOs. Its always been a struggle to explain to a other provider that I don't really care if they do a squat perfectly if they have adapted the exercise to be sports specific. The key to a great rehab is to study the sport and what it requires the body to do. ASK THE ATHLETE what they feel they need to work on, they will tell you!

Keep up the great posts.

Joe Cygan, ATC
US Olympic Training Center
Colorado Springs, CO