NATA's AT-in-Residence Reflects on First Hill Day Experience

March 12, 2014 by NATA Admin
Since trading in a spot on the sidelines as a "traditional" AT for a cubicle at the national office in Dallas, Michelle Vryhof, MA, ATC, has continued to keep busy, from compiling research and assisting with event planning to offering her fresh perspective on NATA initiatives and events. This past weekend, Michelle joined staff, ATs and AT students for Capitol  HIll Day and the Youth Sports Safety Summit, where she participated in lobbying efforts and met with fellow Alliance members in Washington, D.C. Here's what she had to say about her experience.

What was your first NATA advocacy event like? Advocating at Capitol Hill Day was at times challenging, but overall painless. Most of all it was rewarding, both personally and professionally! The summit was completely new to me, but I somewhat knew what to expect for Hill Day because of my prior experience in Sacramento advocating for California licensure. It's rare to get the chance to advocate face-to-face with national represenatives  because generally their staff assistants collect information from the constituents. Consequently, it was challenging to stand out and speak efficiently on behalf of our profession while still trying get a good read on the level of interest from the assistant. Some of those we talked to, however, were surprisingly pleasant and receptive.
Why is it important for ATs and AT students to participate in lobbying efforts? It is very important for ATs and students to participate in events like YSSS and CHD. Actually, I believe it is a necessary responsibility for our members to get involved and be able to advocate to anyone for our profession. Although it can be financially difficult to make it to D.C. every year - or even just once - the experience would be worth it. And if Washington, D.C. isn't a feasible option, members can reach out to NATA or their districts to find ways to advocate for themselves locally. What is done by our members in grassroots efforts locally can directly link to success of lobbying in the national offices.

What surprised you most about the Summit/Hill Day events? As a participating athletic trainer and NATA staff member I was most surprised at how much work went into hosting the YSS Summit and Capitol Hill Day, something easily taken for granted. I also learned that this event is also a very good networking opportunity because you get the chance to team up with other ATs from your state and connect with them all day while walking around and lobbying together.

Describe your most memorable moment from the weekend.  What was most memorable for me was witnessing a group of physicians who utilize athletic trainers in their own practice speak so highly of our worth during the Summit. They even joined us on Hill Day to help lobby for our profession and our common goals in sport safety. We are continuing to make significant gains!

Posted by Jaimie Siegle, NATA Editorial Specialist (