AT EducATionalists Offer Students Words of Encouragement

April 1, 2021 by Beth Sitzler

The April NATA News features content related to athletic training education, including an article by the AT EducATionalist Cabinet about students’ perspective on education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The article features a snapshot of how current professional athletic training students have experienced various changes forced on them due to the COVID-19 pandemic based on survey information collected by the cabinet. Throughout, students share the highs and lows they have been facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic since the spring of 2020.

“I have been most impressed with the staff/faculty's positive attitudes even when it has been extremely difficult for them to change the whole program around to fit us as well as deal with the pandemic in their personal lives,” said Mollie Thoreson, a senior at Kent State University. “They have showed us truly how to take a crisis and adapt in a positive way.

“I feel that my personal and professional growth was tested because I, along with everyone else, was forced to adapt and that shows a sense of how strong and resilient that I can be.”

As athletic training students and faculty continue to navigate an ever-changing educational landscape resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the AT EducATionalist Cabinet wants to offer students the following words of encouragement.  


A Message for Athletic Training Students From the AT EducATionalist Cabinet

Athletic training students, you have already overcome so much, and although you are all in different phases of your professional education, you all have aspects of your clinical and didactic education left to complete. Continue to be adaptive and resilient with the time you have left in your program and your ongoing path to professional practice. Take care of yourself and your family first and look out for your mental and physical health as you work toward reaching your educational and professional goals.

As you plan your remaining time in your program, the following recommendations can help further strengthen your education and development:

  1. Conduct an honest self-assessment and reflection of your specific strengths and weaknesses as a future AT. You know best what you know and do well in regard to content, theory, skills and clinical application.
  2. Consult a faculty member or two who know you well and ask for an honest appraisal of your abilities and areas for improvement related to anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, pathophysiology and the clinical sciences. You can always strengthen the pillars of your education and professional practice.
  3. Triangulate all of the information and feedback you get from yourself, chosen preceptors and faculty and plan a deliberate path toward progress, remediation and improvement. This self-learning process is critical for the development of lifelong learning and clinical expertise, but it must provide specific and deliberate steps for learning and relearning in order for it to be effective.
  4. Take care of yourself. Remain connected to your friends, peers and family; exercise regularly; and engage in joyful activities. Reach out for help if and when needed and use the support services of your program, institution and ATs Care, if needed.
  5. Use steps 1-4 as the basis for a pledge to be more active in all of your future clinical and didactic educational experiences moving forward. Be or become the most active and mastery-oriented learner in your classes, labs and clinical education. Don’t just study, learn. Take it upon yourself to learn by revisiting “old” content and tackling new skills and material with the intent to link and connect what you know, while realizing what you don’t know. Embrace failure as productive struggle and realize fully that struggle is required for learning. Just like our bodies need to feel pain in order to grow and get stronger, so too must our minds.

Education, and life in general, during the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult. It can be hard to stay motivated, but this is temporary – your future is not. Use the time you have to challenge yourself in ways that are authentic and deliberate. Don't use the pandemic as an excuse; respect the opportunities to grow, although they may look different.