I set a goal in 2014 to jog, bike, or hike/walk 1,000 miles. I am pleased to report that I passed that goal on Dec. 27. The last few days were a bit cold and snowy, but it was an accomplishment for me. My year end breakdown was 491.43 miles on my bike, 470.7 miles jogging and 52.78 miles hiking/walking. Now, for some, that is nothing to write home about. But I share this with you because of something that I realized as I reviewed my exercise for 2014. Although I met my goal, I was only physically active (as recorded on my mileage log) 179 days, less than half the year. Further, I ran less in 2014 than 2013 (471 miles vs. 554 miles) which isn’t what I set out to do when my goal was set. Also, days that were spent running in 2013 were replaced with biking days in 2014, which was a much easier way to rack up the miles.
Although I probably met the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,1 in hindsight I believe I missed the mark for the year. I obtained my goal but I did not get nearly as much out of it as I could have. Peer and Kobordo asked the following question of educators in a recent editorial, “Are we spending so much time worrying about competencies, pass rates, and standards that we have failed to address the overall transformation of these young people into skilled, self-directed, self-regulated lifelong learners who can competently practice unsupervised when they cross the threshold from their academic programs into clinical practice?”2 Further, they assert that educators “often structure [an athletic training student’s] experiences so rigidly that they have very little authentic experience when they graduate. We give them a false sense of security that contends that if you do well in school you will be fine in the actual practice of the profession.”2Connecting back to my personal example from above, are we as educators focusing too much on getting in our 1,000 miles without paying attention to being active every day? There are definitely things for educators to work on.
Since this blog is written to athletic training students, I will adjust their question a bit. What about you? Are you too focused on passing a class or studying for a given test that you are missing out on the benefit of daily transformative experiences? I wonder if focusing on the big goal—passing the BOC exam—is limiting the benefit you get from the educational process you are going through to prepare for the exam. What are some little things you can do to help your professional transformation? I offer a few suggestions.
1. Be present. I understand fully that being an athletic training student today is different than when I went through an athletic training program, but I don’t remember ever doing homework while at my clinical assignment. I was too busy learning the art and science of the profession. And I was rewarded for my efforts. I learned nuances of the profession, things that are not listed on competency and proficiency sheets. I added little pearls of wisdom from different preceptors at my different clinical education sites. I gained the trust and respect of those same preceptors and the athletes that I was working with. Most importantly, I wasn’t blindsided when I entered full-time clinical practice. Consider how you are spending your time when you are at your clinical education sites and make sure you are making the most of the education you can receive clinically.
2. Seek out opportunities. This goes hand in hand with being present. You as a student are in charge of your education. I have worked with very few preceptors who will not let a student practice athletic training given the right timing and situation. Put yourself out there. If you want to practice evaluating an injury, seek them out. If you are unfamiliar with certain administrative practices, be it insurance paperwork, billing issues or even speaking with coaches about injured players, speak with your preceptor and have those experiences. If you want to be involved with a research project to prepare for graduate school, ask. Your program administrators will do their best to put you in a variety of settings to make sure you have a well-rounded clinical education. Let the educational experience go through you, don’t just go through the experience.
3. Incorporate “Foundational Behaviors of Professional Practice”. As a student you probably hear repeatedly about competencies and proficiencies and how they relate to your education. Foundation Behaviors of Professional Practice are “basic behaviors [that] permeate professional practice” as outlined in the 5th edition of the competencies, and are the foundation upon which the competencies are built. They include: Primacy of the Patient, Team Approach to Practice, Legal Practice, Ethical Practice, Advancing Knowledge, Cultural Competence and Professionalism. Each area is broken down further outlining abilities and attributes you as a student should be working toward exhibiting. If you haven’t reviewed them recently, they are worth a few minutes of your time.
As I look to 2015 I want to be physically active more days of the year. Doing so will most likely equate to more miles completed. In other words, I will complete my goal. As you focus on your goal to pass the BOC exam, see what you can do to be more clinically active on a daily basis. I believe doing so will help with your transition to becoming an athletic trainer, not just passing an exam.