What does touring with Disney on Ice have in common with working in the NFL with the New England Patriots or the professional soccer team Kansas City Current? All are jobs that TCU students have earned after graduating from Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences’ athletic training program within its kinesiology department.
While most people may not realize it, athletic training is a health care profession. It encompasses preventing, examining, diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers typically work with a more physically active population in a variety of settings, such as high schools, college, professional, physician offices, fire departments and industrial as well as performing arts.
Stephanie Jevas, Ph. D., director of the athletic training program, explained how TCU has one of the oldest programs in Texas – in fact, 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of the program. What started out as a four-year Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training program has now shifted to a two-year graduate program. The athletic training program has now modified its curriculum to offer advanced-level instruction, including more hands-on labs for students and immersive clinical experiences in various athletic training environments.
The athletic training program is unique in how it prepares its students for their future careers. Jevas describes how Harris College supports the program through interprofessional education (IPE). While it’s now a required component of Athletic Training programs, students and faculty at Harris College have been engaging in IPE for the past nine years.
“We host educational events with nursing and nurse anesthesia, speech-language pathology, social work and even the department of nutritional sciences within the College of Science and Engineering,” Jevas said. They also have educational activities with other universities including the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) where participants learn about and from students in other disciplines such as physical therapy, osteopathic medicine and physician assistant, to name a few.
At these educational events, students come together and learn about the different roles and responsibilities of the various health care professions.
Harris College also offers students learning opportunities in “TeamSTEPPS.” The STEPPS part of this stands for “strategies and tools to enhance performance and patient safety,” Jevas explained. The students are taught “how to resolve conflict when working in teams and really what it means to have good teamwork.”
“It’s great to see these different professions, at the student level, sitting around a table and being able to apply different strategies to educate each other on what their educational program looks like and what their roles and responsibilities are in health care,” Jevas said. This is something that she believes “makes our students across our college stronger and something that sets them apart as they move out into their professional careers.”
It’s important to understand that a career in athletic training is challenging. Jevas says that those in athletic training circles have a saying: “No timeout, no halftime, no offseason.” No matter where you go in athletic training, doing a good job and being successful requires dedication and effort. This is what makes an outstanding program like TCU’s so critical to preparing students for careers in athletic training.