Home to athletic trainers throughout their careers, NATA provides its members access to professional growth, support, connection and advocacy. Through this semiweekly blog series, members will share what made them join NATA, the value of membership and how, together, we are NATA. Don’t forget, the deadline to renew your 2021 NATA membership is Dec. 31. Renew or join today and learn more about the benefits of NATA membership.
NATA has members in every setting, from performing arts to professional sports, and all around the world, from California to China. It’s common for athletic trainers to connect and share stories, resources, mentorships and friendships with ATs they may not have ever met before. Abu Ibrahim, ATC, experienced this connection first hand.
“There’s a massive structure in place that you wouldn’t even realize until you get into the piece of it, but I think it all began with [the NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo],” said Ibrahim, who has been a member of NATA for eight years. “Being there exposed me to more people outside my district, outside my class, outside of a lot of different places who I was able to get to know on a professional and a personal level. I think that was really interesting and really cool and awesome to be a part of.”
When interacting in person isn’t an option, such as during a pandemic, NATA has virtual options for ATs to discuss and connect. Ibrahim said the Gather platform has allowed for interactions and discussions during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been able to use Gather to find volunteering opportunities, which has led to his involved with the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee.
“I think all the different volunteering and other organizations, like committees, have really been able to help me grow my network to people who I used to read about in undergrad who are colleagues now,” he said.
Connecting with NATA means utilizing Gather, professional interest communities, NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, mentorship, volunteerism and social media channels. Whether virtually or in person, there are ATs who can provide experience, knowledge and advice.
“I think being a member of NATA has helped me in a bunch of different ways that I wouldn’t have gotten if I wasn’t an NATA member,” Ibrahim said. “I think there’s an endless pool of knowledge from all of the athletic trainers who have been in here both past and present. I went to my first convention after my undergrad, and it’s been awesome going a bunch more times since then. I’ve only not gone two times out of the eight years I’ve been a member.
“They’ve got things for everyone. They’ve got things for undergrads; they’ve got things for young professionals; they’ve got things for certified students. All those things have exposed me to a bunch of different people and ideas, like convention, that has gotten me into the position I am now. From having been just kind of a green horn [to now], I think that’s all due to NATA.”
There’s strength in numbers, Ibrahim said. With NATA’s membership, reaching and informing more members of the public about what athletic training is and who athletic trainers are is possible.
“It’s really empowering to explain to someone what an athletic trainer is, and they have no idea at first, which is a very common response, but once you have that initial connection, you can then go on and explain to them, ‘I’m not the only one here in the state or even the district,’” he said. “There’s [a large number] of us out there making a difference in people’s lives. So once you have that as an initial bridge, you can then direct them to all the resources on the NATA website. They can go back and follow up and learn more about what we do and how we do it.”
No matter where you are in your athletic training career, a membership with NATA is the best way to stay connected, grow professionally and help advance the profession.
“[Being a member of NATA is] not an obligation; it’s a thing I want to do,” Ibrahim said. “I think some people see it as an obligation like, ‘You have to be in NATA because you’re an athletic trainer,’ which isn’t exactly the case. NATA helps connect a body of likeminded individuals who are really interested in seeing athletic training as a profession grow and evolve, and I think that’s really, really important to the longevity of a career in athletic training.
“I think it’s really important that we support NATA, and NATA support us. It’s us that end up really making the body of it, and we can help ourselves by helping NATA.”