Southeast Missouri State University
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SOUTHEAST ALUMNA BREAKING NEW GROUND IN ATHLETIC TRAINING CAREER FIELD
University promotes National Athletic Training Month

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 7, 2002 - Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation is promoting National Athletic Training Month during March, building on this year's nationwide theme, "Injury Assessment: The First Step in Treatment and Recovery."

"Southeast athletic training students will make posters relating to aspects of athletic training and place them in local businesses around Cape to promote National Athletic Training Month," said Dr. Craig Elder, Southeast assistant professor of health, human performance and recreation, director of athletic training education and a certified athletic trainer.

"The purpose of National Athletic Training Month is for people to become aware of injury prevention and to acknowledge the efforts of the 30,000 members of the National Athletic Trainers' Association," Elder said.

The event is a time for people nationwide to learn about preventing injuries in both work and recreational settings.

Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are key members of any medical or athletic health care team, and athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association as an allied health care profession.

"ATCs are health care professionals who work under the supervision of a licensed physician and specialize in the prevention, evaluation and rehabilitation of injuries to athletes and those engaged in physical activity," Elder said. "Athletic trainers administer emergency care for acute sports injuries and rehabilitate chronic injuries.

"Certified athletic trainers typically work with secondary school interscholastic athletic programs, intercollegiate athletic programs, professional athletic teams, corporate health programs, sports medicine clinics, physicians' offices, health clubs and industrial health programs," Elder said. "ATCs provide a high level of patient satisfaction functioning as physician extenders, which has prompted some employers to consider them in previously non-traditional settings such as inpatient hospital care," he added.

Kelly Wiedner, a Southeast alumna and ATC from Indianapolis, is one of the individuals exploring a career in a non-traditional setting, carving out her own unique niche in the athletic training field. Wiedner graduated from Southeast in 2000 with a bachelor of science degree in health management, specializing in athletic training, and received her athletic training certification in June 2000. After graduation, she worked for a St. Louis physical therapy company as an outreach athletic trainer to a local high school.

Wiedner then heard of a new opportunity with a hospital in Indianapolis. Community Hospital East, part of Indiana's Community Health Network, was looking for a certified athletic trainer to supplement their nursing staff. The concept of adding an ATC to the staff was part of an innovative approach to solve their nursing shortage, an ongoing problem faced by hospitals across the nation. The hospital felt the skills and knowledge of an ATC would be well-suited to this role.

"The position sounded interesting, so I went forward with the interview process," Wiedner said.

She started work as a certified athletic trainer on the orthopedic/neurological floor of the hospital in September 2002.

"My athletic training education and background gives me knowledge of orthopedics, anatomy and rehabilitation, which are important to this position," Wiedner said. "My job consists of making sure that our postoperative patients are getting up and moving and making sure they know the exercises that are given to them at physical therapy. I also change surgical dressings and make sure that the patients' families know what to do if the patient is going home after surgery," she said.

By performing these tasks, Wiedner gives the nurses more time to devote to other essential, nurse-specific job duties.

"Nurses on my floor are responsible for all aspects of patient care," she said. "They take orders from doctors and make sure that all medications are given and tests are done. They are in contact with families, do admissions and discharges and make sure that all paperwork is completed. They usually have up to seven patients. If an ATC can take on some of these responsibilities, it allows the nurse to put more focus on the other things they have to do," Wiedner said.

Wiedner's new job has some similarities to a typical ATC position, but offers new challenges as well.

"I educate the patients, motivate them and make sure that they are performing their exercises correctly," Wiedner said. The challenges come from the fact that she is not working with the type of patient that an ATC would typically have.

"Most of my patients are above the age of 70, and were not athletes before surgery," she said. "I have to figure out how to work with these different types of people."

Despite the challenges, Wiedner is positive about the new direction her career has taken.

"I believe my position is becoming something great," she said. "I am able to help the nursing staff, but most of all, I believe that I benefit the patients. In the future, I hope we can show that having an ATC on our floor helps the patients to progress at a faster rate. I really believe that it can only get better," she said.

The hospital, nurses and patients that Wiedner works with are not the only ones who have benefited from the arrangement.

"I have gained knowledge in an area that I didn't know much about, which is nursing," Wiedner said. "I am also gaining a new knowledge of working with a whole different group of patients. This is something that I want to progress."

Wiedner is optimistic about the future of ATCs working in this type of setting.

"I really think that once word gets out, we may see ATCs working in orthopedic units in almost every hospital," she said.

Gail DiPrete, associate head athletic trainer at Southeast and one of Wiedner's former instructors, agrees.

"You are seeing and will see our profession branch out more into corporate and private settings," DiPrete said. "The education and background that athletic trainers receive is very unique, and the more educated that people become about our profession, the more diverse our roles as athletic trainers will become," she said.

"Athletic trainers like Kelly, who go out and develop new roles and responsibilities for athletic trainers help our entire profession," said DiPrete. "She is to be commended for taking on such a bold new venture."

 

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