This semester I was able to do an on field evaluation for a football player who landed on his shoulder during practice. Once he got off the ground, he kneeled for a while holding his arm. As I started walking over to him, he got up and started making his way to the opposite sideline. I ran to catch up to him and finally caught him at the sideline to ask what happened. He said that he landed directly onto his shoulder after a tackle, and he was experiencing fairly intense pain towards the back of his shoulder. We struggled to remove his shoulder pads to get a better evaluation of the injury, but when we did, he said his pain had moved from the back of his to the anterior portion of his shoulder along the biceps tendon. He was tender along the short head of the biceps tendon, but was not at all tender in the posterior portion of the shoulder. I went through manual muscle testing for both the rotator cuff and biceps, and he was only experiencing some muscle weakness with testing of the biceps. Additionally, he was positive for pain and some weakness during special testing for the biceps. After the on field evaluation, the initial diagnosis was biceps tendinitis that was irritated from the fall.
The next day when I arrived for practice, the initial diagnosis had changed. It had shifted to shoulder impingement, and he was experiencing pain in the posterior portion of his shoulder again. It was not severe enough to keep him out of practice that day. I was surprised at the change in diagnosis because he insisted the pain was in the anterior shoulder and he was not at all tender near the end of the acromion. I also learned that the football player had a history of prior shoulder injuries and impingement. If I could go back and do the on field evaluation again, I would ask many more questions about the athlete’s history. If I had been aware of the past shoulder injuries, I would have also performed more special tests for impingement and rotator cuff injuries. I learned that no matter where I am, whether it be in the field house or on the field, that I should take the time to ask the important questions. If on the field, I should keep the questions clear and specific to what I need to know to be efficient, but I should not cheat myself the past medical history to make an accurate diagnosis.
As of right now, I know that I eventually want to pursue physician assistant studies. I feel like that field is something that the Lord has definitely called me to, and I am always interested in general medicine, so I feel confidently about pursuing this field. I can also get involved with medical missions, which would be a dream for me to be able to do. Originally, I wanted to be a pediatric physical therapist, but that quickly changed when I did my rotation in the physical therapy clinic last Fall. I am so grateful that I was placed there despite it not being my favorite rotation because it made me realize that PT was not what I wanted to study. I had a hard time with staying excited and eager to learn in the physical therapy, my interest was just not spiked in that setting. I was comparing my PT experience with my rotation in the emergency room when I was a sophomore, and it was completely different. Even though I was at the ER until 2:00 AM, I stayed continually intrigued by everything that was going on and still remember that rotation today. Additionally, I shadowed a PT the summer before my junior year, and I feel like I learned so much information in such a short period of time. The majority of that information I can still recall because I was just so genuinely interested in what was going on. I can’t imagine how excited I would be to shadow in a specialty that I am leaning towards, such as cardiology or pediatrics. I am taking the first steps in making connections with PAs right now to look into some more shadowing experience in different fields.
When I graduate, there are few PA programs that I could get accepted into because I am missing two classes that are required for the majority of programs. I am looking into what schools offer these classes over the summer so that I can get them out of the way and focus on applying to schools. I have also invested into a study manual for the GRE to ensure that I am preparing properly to get an adequate score for the PA programs that I am interested in. Lastly, because I am getting married next year and don’t know where my fiance and I will be located geographically, I am researching programs all across the U.S. to prepare for any place that we could land.
Going into my senior ATS year, my strengths and weaknesses have become something that I ponder often. I believe that partially comes from the prompting of my preceptors and many of my professors, but it also may come from a desire to be more introspective as I get older and gain maturity. Many of my flaws have been revealed through introspection, which usually results in me trying to grow and work through those shortcomings both by myself and with the help of others. I believe that my communication and relational skills with the athletes has consistently been one of my strengths. It is so easy for me to create relationships with the athletes that are definitely friendships, but also hold the adequate amount of professionalism in the clinic. For the majority of the time, there is a mutual respect that is between the athletes and me while in the clinic; they respect me and my knowledge, and I respect their privacy, preferences, and modesty. Another strength that I have this year compared to years past is the motivation to stay busy in the clinic. I want to be the first person to offer my help as an athlete walks through the door, I want to be the person who runs out on the field, and I want to be the first one to join in on cleaning the coolers or stocking the shelves in the clinic. As mentioned in my previous journal, I believe this is largely due to the leadership that I am under. I feel that this fact can highlight how good leadership can pull out others’ strengths, and I hope to be a leader like that in the leadership roles I am in now and in the one’s I will be given in the future.
On the other hand, I am struggling this year with being confident in my rehabilitation choices. I have always struggled with rehabilitation progressions, and it is quickly becoming real to me that it is time to buckle down and start growing in this area. I recognize how important it is to be able to plan a successful rehabilitation that will create buy in from the athletes, but also ensure that they are getting better. I was thinking today while running a rehabilitation for a football player with a sprained ankle that there could potentially be a problem with creating rehabs because I struggle with creativity. I have a desire to be innovative and offer exciting, new exercises to rehab patients, but I find it very difficult. To improve this weakness, I plan on pushing the borders of creativity and trying to grow my confidence in what I can create.
This pre-season has been substantially different than the past two pre-seasons that I have been through. When I first got into the program, I was very timid and unsure of myself, but I learned so much. The second year, I dreaded it to be honest. I was at a point in my education where I knew that athletic training was not what I wanted to pursue in graduate school, the physical therapy clinic where I was placed was not one I found very exciting, and my enthusiasm for the field was completed drained. This pre-season, however, has been the complete opposite. I always found myself dreading working with football, but I am loving being with this team. I feel like I am eager to be in the clinic and on the field again, excited about game days, and ready to grow in my knowledge. I think a major contributor for feeling this way is who I am surrounded by and even the athletes. When in the clinic now, I feel like I have freedom to ask as many questions as I need to without the fear of feeling inadequate. My preceptors encourage me and offer me guidance when it is needed all while being so easy to communicate with. This pre-season has taught me a lot about leadership and how those skills can make a difference in whatever setting I am in. Watching the leadership of my current preceptors makes me want to be a better athletic training student alongside the desire to be a better leader in the current leadership positions I am in. There is something to say about gaining experience, whether it be work experience or clinical experience, under leadership that supports you and you truly enjoy being around.
What has continued to still be a hindrance for me is the rehabilitation aspect of athletic training. This will be an area of AT that I will have to consistently be reviewing and growing in regardless of whether my current classes demand it. I feel as if this is the area where I struggle the most because it is the least interesting to me. I am fascinated by emergency care, evaluating, diagnosing, and treatment for acute issues, but chronic issues that call for in depth rehab is where my interest begins to drop. I take that fact as a prompting to lean into this topic to get better. Lastly, I feel like my growth as an AT student has made me understand that communication with my preceptors is key to having the best interactions with them. My growth as an AT student has also shown me that the psychological aspect of dealing with athletes is just as important as their physical state. If I respond the same to an athlete’s turf toe as I do with an athlete’s tib-fib fracture, the turf toe can suddenly become much more painful. I’ve found that it is best to approach each injury with a calming, relaxed demeanor.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.