How are you promoting yourself as a professional? If you’re an athletic trainer, how are you promoting your profession? It’s time for another Sports Med For The Masses guest blog! SMFTM is happy to have Allan Parsells, MS, ATC joining as a guest blogger. Allan is the Head Certified/Licensed Athletic Trainer at Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, New Jersey, and also serves as the Public Relations Chairman for the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey(ATSNJ). Get us thinking Mr. Parsells…
“Who is an Athletic Trainer? What does an Athletic Trainer do? These two questions can be asked to anyone outside the profession and you could get a different answer from each person polled. The name “Athletic Trainer” can be somewhat confusing to those who are not Athletic Trainers or athletes.
“Do you work in a gym and show people how to lift weights?” one might ask.
“No, I save lives.”
So where is that fine line between educating the public about what we do and seemingly complaining that people don’t know our job description? To be honest, I don’t necessarily know the answer. Education of the public is a major aspect of the Athletic Training public relations effort. In my opinion, it is one “non-traditional” aspect of the job that is most important, along with Governmental Affairs. However, there is a strategic way to go about this mission:
- Concentrate on our strengths as a profession rather than speaking about the “things we aren’t allowed to do, but should be.” It is one thing to talk about the educational training we go through and what we are capable of doing. It is another to begin a conversation with “I cannot believe we cannot bill insurance companies for services provided…”
- Talk about our education and state practice requirements. CAATE, the BOC, and state certification/licensure are huge strengths for our profession.
- Strength in numbers – The NATA has a stance on almost every issue facing the profession. A united front with the NATA and its membership is the best way to promote.
- Tone…tone…tone. The way you speak transcends your point to those you are speaking to. Focus on positives with a smooth voice. Use inflection when making important points and always make sure to have good eye contact.
- Beware of what you post on social media. Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be great assets when spreading information, but you must be sure you are sending a good message.
Since this is an online blog post, I am going to focus mainly on the use of social media for the promotion of the Athletic Training profession. Social media includes more than just your typical Facebook and Twitter. Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, and many others are online tools that people use to spread information, and all can be great ways to promote yourself and your profession in a positive way. Nowadays, everything we post online is linked to our name, and with the ease of use comes the increased chance of spreading information that may not promote the best message. Avoiding this issue is very simple – all that is required is you read the article you are posting in advance of sharing. Avoid sharing blindly.
Taking this very simple step can insure that you send the correct message through social media. Also, I have learned from personal experience that word travels quickly about the quality of information you are sharing. I have connected with multiple colleagues on Twitter that I would never have had the opportunity to meet, and we are constantly sharing information back and forth. This open communication not only aids the individual in keeping up-to-date with current research and treatment trends, but allows colleagues from all over the country (and even the world) discuss topics about the profession. This open exchange of ideas will ultimately lead to the advancement of the profession.
Education of the public is a major part of any profession, but is especially important given the misconception of what it is Athletic Trainers do. In the current world of recreational, youth, high school, collegiate, and professional athletics, Athletic Trainers are playing an ever-increasing role and are more important than ever. Fortunately for us, the public is slowly learning more and more about the Athletic Training profession, and that is mainly due to the diligence of those who practice Athletic Training. As long as we band together and present ourselves with the utmost dignity, we are destined for big things. Athletic Training is on the brink of a major breakthrough, and it is up to us as the present and future of the profession to see that the work is done.”
More about Allan Parsells:
Allan earned both a B.S. and M.S. in Athletic Training from East Stroudsburg University. In his spare time, Parsells enjoys avidly rooting for the New York Mets and spending time with his family and friends. He resides in Kingwood, New Jersey with his wife Katie, his son Aidan, and their dog, Rosie. Wish to connect with Allan? You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter (@AllanATC) and he can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also follow the ATSNJ on Facebook and on Twitter (@atsnj – professional page, @NJSportSafety – public page).