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09/1/2015

The Khaki Kronicles: Tales from the Athletic Training Room - Episode 5

Chris Shaff, MA, LAT, ATC
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Chris Shaff, MA, LAT, ATC

Head Athletic Trainer, Franklin College, Franklin, Indiana



CSMI: WHEN DID YOU START YOU’RE ATHLETIC TRAINING CAREER?

CS: Certified in 1996 – began as college intern that year.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO PURSUE A CAREER AS AN ATHLETIC TRAINER?

Was injured while playing collegiate athletics and spent some time in the AT clinic my freshman year. Really liked what I saw and thought I could see myself doing this as a career.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE JOB CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED?

There is a continued push for more hands-on approach to treatments and rehabilitation. More hands on with the patient for therapeutic modalities. More ATs are becoming more proficient with various massage techniques and manual manipulation therapies. This is all a good thing from what I have seen in our clinic. The student-athletes/patients seem to respond better and more quickly to having the one-on-one time with the athletic trainer/therapist. I think this is a great thing for our profession – the continual advancement of how we use our clinical skills and pursue additional continuing education to gain a better understanding of these techniques. I feel you also see it in the way the profession is seen in the eyes of those being treated. More of a rehab focus and that we can do more than just tape ankles and stretch people.

WHAT ABOUT THE ATHLETIC TRAINER’S JOB IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU ASSUMED IT WOULD BE WHEN YOU WERE A STUDENT?

Not too much – I had a great instructor (Kathy Remsburg) that prepared us for the real world and we did not have many surprises.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT A CAREER IN ATHLETIC TRAINING?

Be prepared to work hard but always give yourself some “you time”. And don’t be afraid to say no and stand up for what you believe.

IF YOU COULD SHARE ONE TRICK-OF-THE-TRADE WITH A PEER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Wow – great question. There are so many that we all pick up and learn along the way that it is hard to pick one – and I am sure that it was probably taught to me along the way. I think if you ask any athletic trainer they will agree – that there is a little MacGyver in all of us! (does that reference show how old I am???)

One of the challenges that many of us face is the dreaded playing cast – or making a fiberglass cast playable in a game. I have found that purchasing gasket foam from the hardware store works wonders. It unrolls off the roll and is able to be cut to custom fit around the thumb, wrist, etc. as thick as I feel necessary. I will apply this and then secure it down with an elastic bandage or self adhesive stretch tape. I have never had one denied by a game official.

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HOW IS THE ROLE OF THE ATHLETIC TRAINER CHANGING, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREA OF CONCUSSIONS? HOW DO YOU CONVINCE AN ATHLETE TO STAY ON THE SIDELINES UNTIL HE’S READY TO RETURN?

EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION! There is so much more of an emphasis of teaching the athletes the signs and symptoms and harm a concussion can cause prior to them even stepping on to the field. Most athletes have a good understanding of this now and will agree to error on the side of caution rather than to hide their symptoms and/or rush through the process.

HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST WHEN YOU’RE CAUGHT BETWEEN WHAT A COACH WANTS AND WHAT’S BEST FOR AN ATHLETE?

What is best for the athlete always wins. I have great administrative support when it comes to this. Our coaches understand that all of our decision are in the best interest of the STUDENT-athlete and not the win-loss column.

DESCRIBE A MOMENT THAT YOU LOOK BACK ON AS THE MOST IMPORTANT EXPERIENCE IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR

It is so hard to pick just one. There have been so many experiences that I have had that have helped to shape who I am as an Athletic Trainer.

DO YOU USE ANY INJURY TRACKING OR EMR SOFTWARE IN YOUR JOB? IF SO, HOW DOES IT IMPACT WHAT YOU DO?

We use SportsWare Online. It has been an amazing resource for our entire staff – it gives us the opportunity to record our treatments and injury notes in a shared environment AND give us the flexibility to do some of our work at home when needed. Having a family, I many times want to try and make it home for family dinner, bedtimes and this helps me to take my hand notes and transcribe them into the online system later.


Are you an Athletic Trainer with a story to tell? Drop us a line!



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