March 10, 2011

Program nurtures students’ interest in sports medicine

Program nurtures students’ interest in sports medicine

When high school students realize that they're not destined to be professional athletes, athletic trainer Jennifer Reist, A.T.C., has found that many of the students she works with become interested in sports medicine.

To help them explore this career path, Vanderbilt Sports Medicine has teamed with Whites Creek High School to provide online learning modules about athletic training.

“I've been the athletic trainer at Whites Creek for six years, and a lot of the players have said they want to do sports medicine,” Reist said.

“They really learn what the profession is by being around us. They realize they can't be athletes forever, but this is a way to be around sports.”

Vanderbilt Sports Medicine has a strong relationship with Metro Nashville Public Schools, providing free daily sports medicine coverage to all high school athletes.

It has now become a PENCIL Partner, a program that pairs MNPS with a local business or community organization to help students build relationships with adult role models and support positive outcomes after graduation.

The project began when Reist learned that Whites Creek High School had a senior-level internship class in sports medicine, but it lacked transportation capabilities for the students to be able to shadow athletic trainers.

A website with all the necessary information would bring that experience in to the classroom.

The online worksheets teach concrete sills, such as stretching, taping and making ice bags. Podcasts will be added within a year.

“It teaches the skills that don't require evaluation or treatment. When the students have completed the worksheets, there is a skill sheet that they can present in interviews for jobs or college,” Reist said.

The skills are aimed at students in the internship class but could impact hundreds of students in Whites Creek's Academy of Community Health. If the program proves a success, it could also be expanded to all MNPS high schools.

Reist said that even if students don't pursue sports medicine, they gain valuable skills for any career.

“We teach them professionalism by having them wear khakis and polos and having them introduce themselves. They learn how to communicate with players and coaches and report back to a supervisor.

“They're really gaining skills necessary in any job,” Reist said.