Published on August 06, 2021

OrthoKansas athletic trainers standing on artificial turfAthletic trainers provide care both on and off the field

Many people confuse athletic trainers with personal trainers, but they aren’t the same thing. How do you know if working with an athletic trainer is right for you?

Certified athletic trainers (ATC) are healthcare professionals who work in collaboration with physicians to care for both athletes and non-athletes. Athletic trainers provide prevention, emergency care, diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation for medical conditions and injuries.

Athletic trainers are healthcare providers who must graduate from an accredited bachelor’s or master’s program, provide patient education to prevent injury and have a license to practice. 70% of all athletic trainers have a master’s degree.

After graduating from a school with an accredited athletic training program, candidates must then successfully pass the Board of Certification (BOC) exam. Athletic trainers in Kansas must also be licensed by the Board of Healing Arts.

Keeping athletes safe at school

Many area schools have an athletic trainer that works directly with student-athletes to help keep them safe. OrthoKansas, a regional destination for comprehensive, state-of-the-art musculoskeletal and sports medicine care, and LMH Health employ athletic trainers at eight area schools, including Free State and Lawrence High, Baldwin City, Basehor-Linwood, Bishop Seabury, Eudora, Oskaloosa and Tonganoxie, to keep student-athletes safe on and off the field.

Jamie Blackim

Jamie Blackim

As an athletic trainer at Lawrence High School, student-athletes can count on Jamie Blackim to be there when they need her most.

High school athletic trainers have a lot of freedom in when they begin their workday, depending on the season and what sports are underway. Blackim said that after going through email and communications from the school and the health system, she turns her attention to preparing athletes to take the field.

“Once the bell rings, there’s a mad rush for everyone who needs to get taped or get Band-Aids,” she said. “I check in with the students about their health or their injury status and with the coaches about injuries to their athletes. I’m there until everyone is done for the day - whether that’s for football practice or a soccer match – anywhere from 7:30 to 10:30 or 11 p.m.”

While athletic trainers in the clinic see students who are already injured, Blackim is responsible for the health and well-being of many student-athletes each day, focusing on preventative measures. This allows her to get to know the kids and their coaches on a more personal level.

“I love the relationships I’ve built with the athletes, coaches and administration,” she said. “Lawrence High has a great sense of community. The relationships are what make you love going into work every day.”

Not just there for you during play

Athletic trainers provide care to patients of all ages and abilities, not just athletes at secondary schools, universities or who play professional sports. They work in a number of settings, including physician offices, hospitals, clinics with specialties in sports medicine, physical therapy and fitness and wellness.

Zach Sanchez ONeill

Zach Sanchez ONeill

Zach Sanchez ONeill is an athletic trainer based at OrthoKansas. He said working in the clinic is a totally different environment than working at a school or university.

“I worked in the collegiate setting before coming to OrthoKansas two years ago. One of the things that drew me to the clinical setting is the ability to have a rewarding job with more of a work-life balance,” he said.

The OrthoKansas team focuses on providing comprehensive, personalized care to allow you to safely return to your pre-injury performance level. While school athletic trainers provide care for acute injuries on the field or the sidelines, injured student-athletes are seen the clinic for further evaluation, treatment and care, which sometimes includes surgery.

“Part of my role is to act as a liaison for the patient to coordinate any necessary surgery and follow-up appointments, but an athletic trainer is a jack of all trades,” Sanchez ONeill said.

“No matter who you see – an athletic trainer at the high school or one in the clinic – your health and well-being are our priorities. We’re here to help get you healthy and able to perform at a high level again.”

Autumn BishopStory by Autumn Bishop

Autumn is the marketing manager and content strategist at LMH Health.

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Athletic trainers provide care both on and off the field