AT Irreplaceable in On-Campus Testing, Care

March 1, 2021 by Claire Williams

Over the past year, collegiate athletic trainers on campuses big and small have stepped up to slow the spread of and manage the COVID-19 pandemic. While many ATs have transitioned to testing and even vaccinating in the athletics department, some institutions have turned to their athletic trainers to take the lead for the entire campus as essential health care providers. 

Erin Chapman, DAT, ATC, was one of those ATs. Assistant athletic trainer at the College at Brockport State University of New York, a Division III college just south of Rochester, New York, Chapman’s role on campus has evolved from testing a couple hundred students every week in 2020 to leading the campus’ daily testing site where 5,000 students, faculty and staff are tested weekly.

In the 12 months since the pandemic began, Chapman built on previously established relationships on campus and increased education on the coronavirus to become the resource for all things COVID-19. She made it known that she was irreplaceable.

“By diving right into COVID-19 and what we would need to as a campus and in athletics, [the administration] saw that I was the go-to person for questions,” Chapman said. “I became as knowledgeable as possible.”

As the District Two representative on the NATA Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine Division III Committee, Chapman knew she was equipped with the experience and resources to become as knowledgeable as possible on the coronavirus. She took contact tracing courses, attended webinars, joined the NATA-NCAA COVID-19 workgroup and involved the administration at Brockport.

Before the college began mass testing on campus in September 2020, Chapman was part of the planning and preparation process for bringing students, faculty and staff to campus safely, sitting on committees and task forces. She also invited Brockport to attend a webinar led by athletic trainers that outlined return-to-campus protocols and recommendations, increasing AT awareness even more.

As an athletic trainer, she said, “I’m used to these curveballs being thrown at me – I’m very unfazed by [the unexpected].”

Brockport administration saw Chapman’s experience in care and prevention and prioritized her role in leading the fight against the coronavirus, while also prioritizing care for the campus. Chapman has been given space in various locations on campus to conduct testing, and administration accommodated the increase in testing needs with daily access to space in a recreation center large enough to safely welcome hundreds of students every day.

Chapman was initially part of the COVID-19 testing team, but, since the spring semester began this year, she is leading the operation full-time when the testing requests increased to 5,000 weekly. In addition to the coordination of the testing site and organization of tests, Chapman also manages about 20 volunteers daily who are on-site to administer tests and organize pool samples. She also handles timesheets for student workers at their site.

The exposure of Chapman’s role as an athletic trainer on campus has been a positive part of the pandemic. By finding her place in the chaos early on, Chapman said she has increased awareness of the athletic training profession, built on already-established relationships with groups on campus and used this opportunity to educate new faces and organizations on what athletic trainers do and why they’re equipped to be the go-to health care provider during the pandemic.

Although the future is still unknown, Chapman sees her role leading on-campus testing continuing throughout the rest of the year. Brockport’s prioritization of her role in health care for students, faculty and staff has not only impacted her community, but also the profession in positive ways.

For more information about athletic trainers as an essential piece of quality health care and other National Athletic Training Month resources, visit the NATM webpage on the NATA website.