In the field of athletic training, efficient communication is a daily necessity. Consistent correspondence between trainers, athletes, doctors, and insurance companies is what keeps an athletic training workplace running smoothly.
Ms. Kristen Cook, the head athletic trainer for women’s soccer at Louisiana Tech University, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and is currently earning her Master’s degree here in Ruston. As the head trainer for a specific sport, Kristen is constantly communicating and organizing information to help her department run as smoothly as possible. With almost thirty athletes to take care of, Kristen has a fairly hectic schedule, which could not be kept up with if it were not for her efficient communication skills.
When speaking with Kristen about her duties regarding technical communication, it became clear to me that athletic trainers do so much more than just rehabilitate and help prevent injury for athletes. There is so much behind the scenes work that goes on in the day to day operations of a field house or clinic setting. Without proper communication between the training staff, certain practices, games, or sports events could accidentally go unsupervised by a trainer, appointments could be forgotten about, or medical records could be improperly filed or updated. It is especially imperative that trainer to athlete communication is excellent so that rehabilitation, both physical and mental, can be carried out. Kristen says that “everyday there is athlete to trainer communication…consisting of injury related events to events in daily life”. In other words, every day Kristen speaks with her athletes, both professionally or casually. This communications ranges from emails, group meetings, or texts messages, varying depending on the recipient’s preferred method of communication.
It’s not just the athletes Kristen is responsible for communicating with. Since health and preventative wellness for athletes is the core of her job, Kristen communicates with “anyone and everyone involved in the health and wellbeing of our athletes… parents, doctors, physical therapists, coaches, or administrative staff”. Since Kristen is not yet a member of the full time staff, her communication revolves heavily around medical paperwork, creating and managing insurance and medical documentation. This category of communication begins before preseason even starts; Kristen “manages and arranges physicals for all athletes…having the proper signatures and updated information”. She is constantly updating and creating files on all injured and ill athletes under her care, and one can imagine how poorly things could go if an athlete’s medical records or paperwork was not updated regularly or filed correctly. If an athlete were to suddenly become ill or injured, a visit to the doctor’s office with incorrect medical records could be a waste of time, or result in an incorrect diagnosis.
With so much communication going on in so many ways, there are many chances for error, and therefore many areas for improvement. When asked about mistakes or miscommunications in the workplace, Kristen informed me that one of the biggest risks is not having a supervising athletic trainer at a sporting event or practice. Without a trained professional on site to be a first responder in the case of a serious injury or illness, athletes won’t get the quality care they need. Kristen says that these situations (as well as far more serious ones) can be avoided. She states that within her workplace, “form and amount of communication should be improved” with more “face to face weekly meetings within the department” so that information can be passed on faster and with greater clarity. This, as well as written communication, can help the department run smoothly and assist in efficiency.
As an athletic trainer for a division one college, Kristen is certainly kept busy with injuries, rehabilitation, doctor’s appointments, diagnosing problems, and aiding in preventative health. While paperwork, memos, emails, and insurance files are certainly not the most exciting side of her job, she realizes its importance, and that without proper communication in the workplace, the athletic field house would inevitably fall apart. Speaking with her gave me a reminder that what one does for the whole world to see is admirable, it is what one does behind the scenes that can really make a difference.
Keely Davis, guest blogger.