Any training facility is only as effective as the staff it employs. When it comes to athletic training, however, administrators make blunders that drive great trainers out the door. To retain top talent and improve your facility, avoid these seven athletic facility mistakes.
1. Outdated Processes
With a projected 10-year growth of 21 percent, athletic training is a fast-growing field filled with young professionals who have spent their academic careers learning cutting-edge practices. But many facilities and athletic programs haven’t caught up. Icing every injury, splinting when movement would be a better treatment and a “walk it off” mentality toward minor injuries — these kinds of policies are major turnoffs to talented trainers who want to see their patients improve quickly and return to play.
2. Ineffective Equipment
Old, outdated and poorly designed equipment won’t just hinder your athletes’ outcomes — it will prevent you from acquiring and keeping great trainers altogether. Sturdy taping stations and treatment tables are a must. Having a trusted workspace for athletic trainers allows them to safely do their job and take care of the athletes.
Investing in modalities that will aid in recovery and treatment of injuries will greatly contribute to the goal of return to play quickly and safely. The use of electrotherapy, ultrasound, light and laser therapy, soft tissue tools, compression products as well as other cutting edge modalities will help meet the needs of athletes and your staff.
3. Low Supplies
Are your trainers constantly complaining about running out of tape, ice packs, gauze or splints? They can’t do their jobs without these essentials, and there’s no reason not to have them in stock. Plan for busy seasons, buy in bulk and always keep at least a small surplus on hand.
4. Lack of Training and Support
Career development is critical to any trainer worth their salt, and like most healthcare professionals, athletic trainers have to complete continuing education credits. Are you providing funding, paid time off or other logistical support to help them complete these credits? Do you offer any kind of mentorship or one-on-one training? Your facility’s ultimate goal may be to rehabilitate athletes, but to do that, you first have to train and take care of your staff.
5. Poor Coordination with Physicians
A common complaint among athletic trainers, as well as PTs, OTs and other rehab specialists, is that they don’t have enough information from their patients’ referring physicians. Your trainers may be treating athletes with fractures, muscle tears and other serious injuries, and effective therapy requires clear communication with those athletes’ acute-care teams. Make sure you invest in the communication and record-keeping systems necessary to relay information between your facility and other healthcare providers.
6. Unreasonable Expectations
Like most training facilities, you’re probably under a great deal of pressure to heal your athletes, return them to play and ultimately contribute to a winning season. That said, there is only so much your staff can do to expedite the recovery process. Strained muscles, torn tendons and other serious injuries take weeks or months to heal, and putting pressure on an already-stressed staff won’t improve the situation — neither will expecting them to work miracles with broken equipment and limited supplies.
7. Avoiding Staff Feedback
Like other healthcare professionals, your trainers’ main motivation is to improve the lives of their patients. Most of their dissatisfaction will stem from inefficiencies and ineffective practices, and taking their feedback into consideration will likely improve your athletes’ outcomes and your bottom line. Ignoring criticism, on the other hand, will cause your best trainers to relocate to facilities where they can make a difference.
If you’re guilty of any of these seven mistakes, you’re not alone. But by making an effort to correct these issues, you can quickly surpass the competition and become an industry leader.