What to Expect
Organizational skills will serve you well as an athletic therapy student.
Free time can be hard to come by in this program.
Heather Ward says that her busy high school schedule (she played volleyball,
worked with the football and baseball teams, edited the school newspaper and
worked on the yearbook) helped her adapt to her athletic therapy program.
"I think all of this involvement helped prepare me for the time commitment
that was ahead in the athletic training field," she says. "I was used to having
practically no time to myself, so it didn't come as great shock when I [started]
here and had even less."
A typical day varies, depending on the sport that you are working with,
she says. "Most student athletic trainers have their classes between 8 a.m.
and 2 p.m. Treatments are done approximately one hour before practice and
for one hour after practice. Practice lengths vary from sport to sport. ...
Most traveling is done Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a few exceptions."
Ward liked being exposed to a variety of sports, which the program
provided. She also enjoyed being given more responsibility with the teams
she worked with as she became more advanced in her studies. To help her learn,
the staff was very open to questions and willing to teach as they worked on
"Without a doubt, the most valuable asset that I have had in dealing
with difficulties is talking to the staff. They have usually dealt with
a similar circumstance and are likely able to show you a different point of
One of her challenges has been dealing with all kinds of personalities.
"Everyone is different. Even though two injuries may be very similar, you
can't always treat them the same because of the people involved."
She also found time management a challenge. It was not uncommon
for her to leave her apartment at 7:30 in the morning and get home around
7 at night. Most of her time was spent in the training room or at practice.
Fortunately, she didn't find the homework too stressful. "[I] never really
had more than two hours of general homework. Of course, this does not include
time spent studying for a test or writing term papers, but I don't really
classify them as homework."
How to Prepare
She suggests any advanced-level high school classes will help students
who are interested in athletic training prepare for the caliber of work required.
"Any first aid, athletic training and biology classes that you can
get your hands on are also helpful. They will give you a basis to build on
instead of jumping in blind to the whole subject," she adds.