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  • Writer's pictureDavid Gallegos

What Has The Pandemic Taught Us?

Today we are on the edge of National Athletic Training Month 2022, looking ahead to an in-person RMATA Symposium and a return to a hybrid format for our national convention. It has roughly been two years since we shut down and changed the way we work and live forever. Although we have not found our new normal, things are becoming clearer.

Athletic Training is built on an educational model where we practice population health management and that foundation has made it possible that we reflect on our strengths and play a significant part in the pandemic public health process. Our first practice domain is injury and illness prevention and wellness promotion. Our current environment and in my opinion, an inadvertent shift away from Domain I. is now highlighted as a fundamental aspect of the profession and one we will be well served to build.

In 2015, the NATA sponsored a Public Health Summit with the overarching goal to introduce athletic trainers to population health approaches using current issues as contextual backdrops, but long before then AT's have advocated we have a unique ability to address public health needs. In 2018, the NATA approved the formation of a Public Health Workgroup, now a Task Force, to continue the formal discussion of the intersection of athletic training and public health. In February 2022, the first official resources were approved and will soon be available on our website. The AT-PH Crosswalk is an enlightening tool comparing the similarities and overlap in education and practice competencies. This resource along with the Educator's Tool Kit will enable our educational institutions, members and the Strategic Alliance a clearer vision of our value in population health.

This is an exciting time to discuss public health for many reasons, one of which is our strength in prevention, risk mitigation and cost reduction for the patient and the healthcare system. The focused discussion will allow us the verbiage, education and understanding to advocate for models of embedded group health clinical education and practice. Secondary schools, industrial, public safety, armed forces and colleges and universities are just a few of our embedded health practice opportunities that will benefit from public health understanding. Even for those practices that have focused on the individual will develop an understanding of how collaboration and expanded views will be able to better address group needs.

Of course, the Task Force is lead by an amazing panel of visionary AT's. I am excited to share we have numerous members on the Task Force representing the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers' Association and that our co-chairs are Mark Hoffman (D10) and John Schrader (D7). Be on the lookout for information from the NATA office and on our NATA website.

Looking forward to seeing you in Albuquerque Mach 31st, 2022!

David Gallegos, MA, ATC, Cert. MDT

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