A few seasons ago, I encouraged the manager of our athletic training department to have our athletic trainers set goals each season. Goals are to be individual and can be designed around the interests, strengths, and specialties of our athletic trainers. So for the past couple years, I’ve set season goals, most of which are built around program and relationship/network development. I have one goal I set for each season, however. “Make More Friends Than Enemies.”
Sounds funny, right? I think my coworkers probably laugh and roll their eyes each season I state I am again using that goal. Let me explain why I feel “Making More Friends Than Enemies” is actually a highly involved goal.
How does one make “friends” as an athletic trainer, particularly in a high school setting? Believe it or not, it’s not by hosting a raving themed party, bringing treats for all of the coaches, athletes, and parents, or planning extravagant events. Shocking, I know. I’ve determined that I best make “friends” in this setting by:
- communicating with parents, athletes, and coaches. There are so many ways in which communication is important both in the effectiveness and consistency.
- establishing expectations and roles of and for parents, athletes, coaches, and myself as the athletic trainer. My goal is to communicate expectations through our annual athletic code meeting, at season parent meetings, in meetings with individual coaches before the start of their seasons, and with parents and athletes in their plans for management/care.
- being accessible. I strive to be as accessible as possible to parents, coaches, and athletes whether it be via phone, texts, or emails, meeting directly with them, or being able to meet on the sidelines. I also really enjoy attending community events sponsored by the teams, youth associations, or booster clubs. Direct connections have proven to be a great bonus in providing a successful athletic training and sports medicine program.
- enhancing and using my skill set and decision-making abilities. What’s their injury? Can they play? What do we need to do to get them back? Who else in our healthcare and sports medicine team do we need to utilize?
So why is making “friends” a great accomplishment? For every “friend” I make, it means:
- the injury or condition was evaluated promptly and that I was accessible to evaluate;
- my clinical diagnosis or impression was accurate or appropriate;
- we minimized cost of care;
- referrals were timely and appropriate;
- management, treatment, and rehab was functional, individualized to best suit that athlete, and effective;
- return-to-play was aggressive, timely, and safe;
- coaches, parents, and athletes were informed, educated, and updated regarding the injury and return-to-play process.
There is quite a bit involved with making “friends”. If I can look back at the season and see that I made significantly more friends than enemies, I consider the season to be a success!