There’s a Stephanie McKeen for That

March 15, 2023 by Lydia Hicks

Throughout the history of athletic training, the college/university, higher education, professional sports, secondary school and various emerging settings have become home to athletic trainers wanting to care for all active populations. The impact of these ATs has helped their patients remain active and healthy in work, life and sport.

In honor of National Athletic Training Month this year, the March NATA News featured nine athletic trainers who are providing care to a variety of patient populations. They shared what drew them to the athletic training profession and their particular setting. They also shared how the AT’s essential skill set showcases this year’s NATM theme, “There’s an AT for That.”

Continue reading to learn more about NATA COPA Community Outreach Committee member Stephanie McKeen, MS, LAT, ATC, and her athletic training journey in the community outreach setting. 

Why are you passionate about your patient population/setting?
I am passionate about my patient population and setting because I really have the “best of both worlds.” I am able to provide medical care within the competitive collegiate setting and contribute to the care of a patient within an interprofessional health care team, while also providing medical care to a diverse patient population within the community outreach setting. As an athletic trainer in the outreach setting through the clinic, I am able to contribute to providing medical care that may not otherwise be available to this athletic or patient population and I am often the first athletic trainer that many people have met, which is a great opportunity to make a positive first impression on behalf of the profession.

Tell us about your most memorable day on the job.
I have a lot of memorable days on the job, but some of my best memories have gone back to patients and people I have met within the medical and sporting communities reaching back out to me or going out of their way to thank me for providing care and just caring about them as people. Of course, helping a patient return to sport or activity, for a majority of athletic trainers and myself, is another priceless moment. However, remembering that our roles as athletic trainers are so much more than that – and knowing that I’ve somehow impacted someone in a positive way and vice versa – is the best part of the job. Becoming a part of something bigger than myself within a community, team, setting and patient population creates a special feeling and makes the hard days worth it.

How have you advocated for your position and the athletic training profession throughout your career?
I have become involved within professional athletic training organizations at the state, district and national levels in some capacity, particularly within the NATA Council on Practice Advancement Community Outreach and NATA Early Professionals committees. I have appreciated my participation within these committees because, while we recognize obstacles in the profession, there are also many people wishing to solve them. My objective has also been to contribute to finding solutions and providing resources to ATs navigating emerging or “uncharted” settings. I also strongly believe that every patient encounter is a great opportunity to positively represent the profession. So, it is important to me that I take the opportunity to educate patients and organizations about the profession, take advantage of continuing education opportunities and provide care with compassion and empathy.

Reflecting this year’s theme of “There’s an AT for That,” if you had to pick one essential skill ATs bring to all settings, what would it be?
One essential skill ATs bring to all settings is resourcefulness. Athletic trainers, regardless of setting, are able to evaluate the resources made available to them and within the constraints of their circumstances and factors of the setting. Regardless of limited resources, ATs are great at using their evaluative skills, communication, empathy and compassion and creativity to make the best use of what is available to provide the best patient care.

How are you celebrating National Athletic Training Month this year?
This year, I plan to celebrate National Athletic Training Month by continuing to volunteer time and be involved in athletic training professional committees. I also plan to ask family members and friends to post about NATM on social media and within the clinical settings they and myself work in. For me, I would love to use NATM to reflect on how I can advocate for and contribute to the profession positively.