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Out there in the real world, one athletic trainer experienced the following:

I have often discussed developmental options with prospective athletic trainers (ATs) and typically give one major piece of advice: diversify your knowledge. I have often witnessed recently graduated and certified ATs contemplate their next step in professional development. There are many choices for those looking to expand their knowledge. They can choose to expand their knowledge in athletic training specifically or choose various other educational avenues. This choice depends on their personal career goals.

Here is my story. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in kinesiology (exercise science), but had finished all the core curriculum requirements for physical therapy and athletic training. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work within an athletic population. During my last year, I had the opportunity to become a certified massage therapist (CMT) over a 6-month training program. When I graduated from my undergraduate program, I was already a CMT with my bachelor's degree. Interestingly, I was drawn to law enforcement and stood at the crossroads of the academy or physical therapy assistant (PTA) school. I was accepted into a physical therapy assistant program and completed my associate's degree in 7 months in an aggressive program within a nationally ranked physical therapy program. I learned from the beginning that getting employed as a PTA with a bachelor's degree and CMT certification set me apart from other candidates and opened opportunities that otherwise would have been unattainable. I worked as a teaching assistant (TA) and CMT for approximately 3 years.

While working at a small outpatient physical therapy company, I was offered an opportunity to complete my athletic training degree, complete my certified strength and conditioning specialist endeavor, and start a new sports medicine division. The sports medicine division allowed me the opportunity to establish an athletic training program for a large high school and a professional baseball organization. I was rewarded with the title of Director of Sports Medicine, and my administrative responsibilities expanded.

During the time that I was Director of Sports Medicine, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Medicine Team had a program to bring in professionals to assist the full-time staff members. I was originally brought in as a massage therapist and evolved into a dual-role professional: AT and CMT for the USOC. Through this organization, I have experienced and seen some wonderful international sporting events. Although being an AT and CMT was fulfilling, I continued to have an interest in law enforcement. I had often contemplated how I could merge my passion for this profession and my skills as a health-care provider. Fortunately for me, my new employer had the same thing in mind. I became a certified tactical medic through an intensified training program to gain the knowledge and skills of tactical combat casualty care. My team was no longer the ...

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