Athletic Training StudentHigher Education

SLU AT Student Gets International Rugby Experience


Article reposted from
Author: Pat O’Neil

SLU AT Student Gets International Rugby Experience through Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland

SLU AT Summer Field Experience Spotlight – Athlone, Ireland
By: Pat O’Neill (SLU MAT Class of 2018)
This summer, I sought out a field experience over the pond in Ireland to work with rugby. Playing a couple years of rugby in college myself has me interested in pursuing a career covering rugby. Currently, I am affiliated with Connacht Rugby, a member of the Guinness Pro 12 League, covering their U17, U18, and U19 squads as well as, Buccaneers Rugby Football Club, a member of the Ulster Bank League.
I have had the pleasure to collaborate and learn from Michael Donohoe M.Sc ARTC.  This is Michael’s second year working with Connacht Rugby’s sub-academy teams and his fifth year working with the Buccaneers. On top of his job as an Athletic & Rehab Therapist, he is also an assistant lecturer at Athlone Institute of Technology. He is always willing to answer the many questions I have and goes above any beyond his role as a preceptor to make sure I am getting the most out of this experience.
Being with the Connacht Rugby sub-academy teams has been an incredible experience to say the least. There are just under 100 athletes ranging between 15 and 18. I am working with and treating the some of the best rugby players under the age of nineteen in the country.
Connacht’s multifaceted approach to developing their athletes has given me the opportunity to collaborate with physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists, and sports nutritionists. With the help of Michael, I have really refined my manual therapy techniques and gained a greater appreciation for them. I have also been exposed to many new rugby specific rehab and return to play protocols.

I have also enjoyed my experience with Buccaneers Rugby Football Club. There are about 40 athletes on the team ranging between early twenties to mid-thirties in age. Currently the squad just started their pre-season training so our focus is on injury prevention and managing the volume of training. The athletes are great to work with and they are sure that there is never a dull moment in the clubhouse. I look forward to covering their matches, which begin mid-August.

I am very appreciative of this experience to work with these athletes and staff. My time working with both Connacht and the Buccs has already had an immense impact on developing my skills as an athletic training student and on my education.
Students in the Saint Louis University Athletic Training Program have an immersive field experience in the summer between their two professional years in the program. This blog post details a student’s reflection on their experience.

Athletic Training StudentHigher Education

Ithaca College Athletic Training Program Builds Seven-Year Passing Streak on Board Exams


Article reposted from Ithaca College
Author: Dan Verderosa

The Ithaca College athletic training education program has gone an impressive seven years without a student failing the national Board of Certification exam. Since 2011, 112 consecutive students have passed on their first attempt.

The rigorous BOC exam is designed to test students’ professional knowledge and assess their clinical reasoning and problem-solving skills. Students must pass the exam in order to work as a certified athletic trainer virtually anywhere in the country (Texas does not require the BOC exam).

Nationwide, the average first-time pass rate is 81 percent. For the past seven years, Ithaca College’s is 100 percent.

But while the program’s faculty is proud of the perfect streak, they don’t dwell on it. In fact, they intentionally de-emphasize the exam as part of the curriculum.

“One of the reasons that we have this streak is that we don’t focus on the test. We don’t teach the test,” said Paul Geisler, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences and director of the athletic training education program.

Instead, the athletic training faculty aim to teach students how to think, apply their knowledge base and problem-solve in context so that they’ll excel in a myriad of real-world situations. The 100 percent pass rate is a happy byproduct of not only what they teach but, more importantly, how they teach and challenge their students.

“The goal is that when they graduate, students have clinical capabilities and expertise beyond what is expected of entry-level practitioners,” said Geisler.

The streak has garnered attention from proud alumni, and current students don’t want to be known as “the class that ends it,” creating a healthy competitive spirit in each cohort of students. But sooner or later, all streaks come to an end. And when that finally comes to pass?

“Big deal,” said Geisler. “It’s not the end of the world. We’ll start over.”

Higher EducationProfessional Sports

UNLV Athletic Training Graduates Populate the Professional Ranks


Article reposted from UNLV

Think of athletic trainers as the team behind the team. When a baseball player turns an ankle on a hard slide into second base or a football player has a neck spasm after a hard tackle, they turn to their team’s athletic trainers. Their job: Get players back into the game.

Seattle Mariners assistant athletic trainer Rob Nodine, ’92 B.S. Athletic Training, summed it up this way: “If the players are doing well, that means we’re doing well.” Trainers, he added, “don’t like to be in the limelight.”

Nodine, and several other trainers in professional sports, learned how to do just that through UNLV’s athletic training program, which has seen at least 10 graduates hired by professional teams in the last 12 years.

Dallas Cowboys physical therapist/assistant athletic trainer Hanson Yang, ’09 M.S. Kinesiology, most commonly helps players come back from the collarbone fractures and shoulder dislocations. Neck injuries, he said, are the most challenging.Hanson Yang, ’09 Kinesiology, is an assistant athletic trainer for the Dallas Cowboys, where he helps keep players on the field through collarbone, shoulder and soft-tissue injuries.

“There’s not a lot we can immediately do with a neck injury, so we make sure the player is OK first,” Yang said. “But what’s most gratifying is when I work with a player who has experienced a soft-tissue injury before halftime, then I get him into the locker room for some work and 15 minutes later, he’s able to go out and play again.”

Likewise, Boston Red Sox assistant athletic trainer Masai Takahashi, ’99 B.S. and ’03 M.S. Sports Injury Management, is familiar with the aches and pains a hurler can experience over the course of a 162-game season. He was a pitcher on his high school baseball team in Japan.

“Most of the injuries I see are overuse injuries — stiffness in the shoulders, back strain — because the muscles get tight,” he said. “I try to catch tightness before it becomes an injury, so I do a lot of soft-tissue work on players to keep their muscles loose.”

Pitchers are always his biggest challenge. Almost no starter makes it through a season of 35 to 40 appearances throwing a baseball more than a hundred times a game without feeling some muscle fatigue, Takahashi said.

“If we can help them get through the season without going on the (disabled list), that’s very satisfying for us.”

At UNLV, they all became well trained in manual therapy, a technique in which they probe for and treat injuries with their hands. “There are things you can feel by hand that you won’t pick up in an X-ray or an ultrasound,” Takahashi said. “Every athlete is different, and it’s important to not only learn the difference between each athlete, but how each athlete’s body feels from day to day. That way, you can be proactive and prevent injuries.”

“Every player has his own driving force,” Nodine said. “We pay attention to players’ needs on a daily basis because knowing how injuries play into their psyche is very important. Athletes want to keep playing at a very high level of performance, and they like it when we explain things to them.”Rob Nodine speaks with a player in the dugout.

Seattle Mariners assistant athletic trainer Rob Nodine, speaks with pitcher Felix Hernandez during a game.

Nodine, who served on the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society’s executive committee from 2010-15, credited Kyle Wilson, UNLV assistant athletic director for sports medicine, for teaching him about the emotional component of athletic training.

Athletic training students typically spend mornings in the classroom learning the fundamentals of health care, then work with university teams in the afternoon to get invaluable real-world experience. The regimen has led to a first-time pass rate average of 98 percent on the national certification exam since 2010 – well ahead of the three-year national average of 81 percent.

“It’s common sense to know that everyone handles pain and healing different,” Wilson said. “Two different baseball players might have the same injury, but they’ll respond to treatment differently. That’s why it’s important to interact with athletes when they’re not injured.”

After NFL Draft Day, Yang spent the summer immersing himself in learning about Taco Charlton and the Cowboys’ new recruits. He and his fellow trainers developed exercise regimens for players at a series of mini-camps that will help the coaches winnow down the aspiring NFLers to a final roster of 53 players before the season kicks off.

The camps also give Yang a chance to build trust with the athletes he’ll be caring for all season. He asks about their families and lives outside of sports.

Yang had planned a career in engineering until he shadowed a family friend tending to a sports team. “I never believed I’d get to this professional level,” Yang said. “I appreciate my instructors, who taught me how to develop a good rapport with athletes, and to really understand that they are individuals, not just protocols. They gave me the opportunity to assess and develop treatments for patients, and then give me the confidence to use those skills on my own.

Higher Education

Texas Permian Basin Growing their Athletic Training Program


Article reposted from OA Online
Author: Ruth Campbell

Being athletes themselves got Courtney Brower and Ailem Villarreal interested in studying athletic training at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians in prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association website said.

Brower, a 22-year-old junior, started out in physical therapy at the University of Toledo for two years.

“When I transferred here, I liked the idea of working with sports and being a little bit more hands on with the athletes,” Brower said.

“Growing up, I did gymnastics so I dealt with a lot of injuries,” Brower said. “The coming back part was very interesting to me, like the rehab and trying to get back in shape, so that played a role, as well. I like seeing people come back and be healthier and still being able to compete at the same level.”

Villarreal was a pre-med student at UTPB when she decided to turn to athletic training.

“I just remembered back in high school I was always in the athletic training room and I loved it. I like working with sports and I like helping athletes, so it just all worked together so when I transferred I was like athletic training and I got in touch with doc,” Villarreal said, referring to Richard Lloyd, associate clinical professor of kinesiology at UTPB. Lloyd also is the Athletic Training Education program director.

Lloyd said there are 22 students in the clinical portion of the athletic training program.

The UTPB website said the athletic training education program blends both clinical and classroom components to develop a “well-rounded entry-level certified athletic trainer.

Richard Lloyd associate clinical professor of kinesiology said there are 22 students who are active in the clinical portion of the program.

“The professional phase of the program is when you’re taking both classroom classes and the hands-on clinical experiences. There are a series six semesters of the clinical experience. Each clinical practicum has specific goals and competencies that are developed through each of them as they move through the program,” Lloyd said.

Students graduate with a bachelor of science degree in athletic training that makes them eligible to take the National Board of Certification Exam, Lloyd said. Graduates have started out working in sports medicine clinics, and in the course of that work, they may be contacted by a high school that offered them a position on staff.

UTPB’s program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. One has to graduate from an accredited program to take the national exam, he added.

“We like to say, as a health care profession, we are responsible for the care, prevention and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. State laws word it somewhat the same, but instead of saying athletes, they say the physically active so that doesn’t limit it to just sports teams,” Lloyd added.

Athletic trainers may work in areas that people don’t necessarily put with the profession.

“The traditional setting used to be high school and college and professional sports teams. There are a lot of new emerging settings. … Athletic trainers are on staff in places like Disneyland and NASA and Las Vegas shows,” like Cirque du Soleil.

Lloyd and Gary Danielson, head athletic trainer at UTPB, athletic trainers at PHYTEx and some of the high school athletic trainers from high schools in Odessa and Midland have donated their time to care for Sandhills Rodeo participants.

Danielson said he thinks the program is growing and the student selection process is improving. What he looks for in a student is someone who is “with it.” Students should be interested in the field before they ever sign up.

“You can’t necessarily put it down just on knowledge because you can be really smart and not know how to apply things. There’s just a certain amount of awareness,”

The athletic training program at UTPB is part of the Kinesiology Department because there’s a lot of cross-over with some of the same core curriculum classes, such as analysis of human movement, exercise physiology, first aid and CPR.

“We are housed in there, but we are a separate major,” Lloyd said.

And he wants people to know that trainers are not just “Gatorade kids.”

“That’s one of the stigmas that my profession is working hard to overcome that we’re just not the water boy,” Lloyd said. “There’s a lot of re-education of muscle groups and rehabilitation that goes on, as well as other standard therapies using ice, compression, elevation (and) heat packs.”

Evidence-based practice, making therapeutic decisions based on documented research findings and the internet have also changed the profession, Lloyd said.

“Access to more knowledge is always helpful,” he said. “Within evidence-based practice, there is leeway for the clinician’s experience. …”

The patients’ wishes also are taken into account, so they won’t become noncompliant.

“To remain licensed and certified, athletic trainers have to maintain a requirement of continued education that you have to submit and it is documented every two-year period nationally,” Lloyd said.

He added there are a lot of positions that come up for athletic trainers in Texas. Lloyd said he grew up in the Niagara Falls/Buffalo, N.Y., area, went to college in Indiana and graduate school in Illinois. He got married and was living in St. Louis, but there were no jobs, so he applied in Texas and wound up at Canyon High School.

“That’s where my career started as a high school athletic trainer,” said Lloyd, who is in his ninth year at UTPB.

Since March was National Athletic Training Month, Lloyd said it was a good opportunity to promote the profession, because they work mainly behind the scenes and a lot of people don’t understand the difference between what a coach does and what athletic trainers are trained to do.

“That’s one of the reasons why they do certain rotations and the emphasis is on certain things, but they’re doing hands-on under the instruction of their preceptors,” Lloyd said. “We also use the emergency room at Odessa Regional (Medical Center) where they do a rotation. … The emphasis is non-sport, non-orthopedic patients.”

“They do a rotation with football, which is an equipment intensive sport,” he added. “They also have good experience with both men’s and women’s team and individual sports. Those are the requirements that we have to make sure our students get to remain accredited.”

ORMC has Wednesday and Saturday sports clinics that attract people from around the region. The emergency room also allows students to see all kinds of trauma.

“The thing is with athletic training is you wake up in the morning and you don’t know what you’re going to have to manage – anything from a laceration to the possibility of a catastrophic injury,” Lloyd said. “You just never know what may happen that day.”

Higher EducationProfessional Development

Indiana State Athletic training students to lead national LGBTQ workgroup


Article reposted from Indiana State University
Author: Betsy Simon

Three Indiana State University students in the Doctor of Athletic Training program will lead their first National Athletic Training Association-sponsored LGBTQ workgroup in athletic training this month.

As the workgroup’s founding members, Ashley Crossway, Emma Nye and Sean Rogers will lead the first diversity and inclusions workgroup of appointed members who include past and present NATA board of directors to create a mission, vision and foundation for the group’s future work, which received the NATA’s approval earlier this year.

“The DAT program has an emphasis on advocacy in the profession, so throughout the course of the students’ time here we have emphasized that in a variety of ways,” said Lindsey Eberman, associate professor in the applied medicine and rehabilitation department. “Our program requires a traditional research project and a practice-based research project, which provides a unique opportunity for students to do advocacy research.”

Crossway, Nye and Rogers talked about things they wanted to do to make changes in the profession and approached Eberman, who turned to colleagues. They suggested talking to alumni, specifically Marjorie Albohm, who was influential in mentoring the students before moving forward with their request to the NATA for the workgroup and their research.

Their research purpose was to survey the perceptions of athletic trainers and student-athletes about the LGBTQ community. They developed a survey that asked student-athletes perceptions of athletic trainers who identify as LGBTQ, athletic trainers’ perceptions of other athletic trainers who identify as LGBTQ and athletic trainers’ perceptions of student-athletes who identify as LGBTQ.

They went through the NCAA compliance officers to deploy one part of their three-part survey to student-athletes and worked with the National Athletic Trainers Association to establish a random sample of athletic trainers in Division I, II and III for their second and third parts of the study. The survey was completed by 623 student-athletes and 1,109 athletic trainers.Crossway’s passion for advocacy for the LGBTQ community developed long ago, but the Doctor of Athletic Training program helped her turn her passion into action.

“When we were in the master’s program, we had to write blogs for our advocacy website AT4AT, and I wrote one about the changing legislation when gay marriage was passed and there was some debate about my blog,” she said. “I met with Dr. Eberman and we reached out to someone in the profession about starting a members’ interest group in October of 2014. Essentially, I got shot down and I put it on the backburner.”

That is until Crossway and Nye began discussing research and joined forces with Rogers.

“I’m a member of the (Institutional Review Board) and we’ve heard of instances of individuals who were studying a particular population where the researcher was intimidated because of the research they were doing, and this is something we talked about before we distributed the surveys,” Eberman said.

But to the contrary, Crossway indicated, “I was surprised by how many positive emails we got when we were distributing our surveys. People were excited that we were doing this kind of research for the profession.”

The goal is this workgroup will eventually become representative of the entire nation, Eberman said.

“But these students have to lay down the groundwork for why it is important and what needs to be done and that could take time, partly because of the NATA’s funding structure,” she said. “You can’t just sit back. Even if the research gets published, if they’re not trying to get those results into the hands of people, if they’re not pushing for development of workgroups as an extension of the research, then it’s just a paper that is published. They’re reward is more work and more advocacy, but at least they now have a platform for that, whereas a year ago they did not.”

The results are being processed and will ideally create a platform to push for more advocacy for underrepresented groups within the NATA.

“A lot of the responses were positive, but there were also a lot of neutral responses and some negative responses,” Rogers said. “I think those negative and neutral responses are where we want to focus because LGBTQ individuals didn’t really have that advocate before the creation of this workgroup within the NATA, and we want to use the data to show the importance of the LGBTQ community having a voice within our profession.”

Crossway noticed respondents’ concerns for offending transgender people and uncertainty because of limited exposure to them. Similarly, Nye found a majority of athletic trainers expressed that they don’t have access to formal training or education on how to approach someone transitioning or other individuals within the transgender community.

“A lot of the athletic trainers responded that they didn’t know what pronoun to use and it makes them feel uncomfortable, but they said that if they knew which pronoun to use, they would have those types of conversations with athletes,” Nye said.

Eberman said Indiana State’s Doctor of Athletic Training program does offer a course on underserved populations in emerging settings and includes modules specific to this population.”We’re not perfect by any means, but I’m happy that we are at an institution that makes sure people know that this is an open and inclusive space,” she said.

Unfortunately, the NATA doesn’t have a support or advocacy structure for athletic trainers who identify as LGBTQ or other underrepresented groups, but Indiana State’s Doctor of Athletic Training program provided a good foundation for getting such a mechanism off the ground.

“Dr. Eberman and Dr. (Kenneth) Games have created a solid, forward-thinking and progressive group that allows us to take ideas that we want to focus on and are passionate about and run with it,” Rogers said. “If you get complacent with advocacy then it will drop back down. You have to advocate for what you are passionate about and for the people who haven’t historically had a voice, you have to give them a voice; but if you don’t continue advocating, they could fall back.”

The reality, Eberman said, is that athletic training’s roots were in coaching and physical education, not in health care.

“But the cultural norms have not changed with the profession,” she said. “In today’s political culture, people are not one thing. To me, this research demonstrates that. They are not just student-athletes. They are not just LGBTQ. They are not just athletic trainers. Instead, they are a culmination of things and we need to do a better job of recognizing people’s many facets in health care and in athletics.”

Athletic Training StudentEmerging SettingsHigher Education

Athletic Training Students Learn Under the “Big Top”


Article reposted from Sharkbytes
Author: Sharkbytes

Faculty and students from the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Athletic Training Program (ATP) recently participated in the experience of a lifetime at Cirque du Soleil Kurios held in Miami Gardens, Florida. With the increase in popularity of performance medicine, athletic training students and faculty were invited to get a behind the scenes look into show.

Chad Fraser, MS, ATC, head therapist for Cirque du Soleil Kurios, graciously provided a backstage tour while the performers were practicing and preparing for the show. With 18 different Cirque du Soleil shows internationally, the NSU ATP received a unique opportunity to hear from an expert in the demanding field of performance medicine. Not only did the students get a tour, but Fraser provided tickets to the students for the show to enjoy the full experience.

Feedback from NSU’s ATP students about the experience was overwhelmingly positive. Irfan Khan, Level 2 Athletic Training Student, stated, “I really liked the way that Chad takes care of his athletes. He does a lot of preventative care. It was also really interesting that he put so much emphasis on biomechanics and learning how his performers move.”

Kristin Dean, Level 2 Athletic Training Student, shared her perspective: “Being able to explore the stage and backstage tents really peaked my interest. It amazed me how much dedication, time, effort, and innovation went into running the show.”

Students also reflected on this unique work environment that was above and beyond traditional clinical experience that they had been exposed to in the past. Mr. Fraser also visited the NSU faculty and students on the Davie campus for a follow-up discussion about the performance. His insights into these world-class performers provided discussion into the need for creating therapeutic exercise programs as an athletic trainer.

Pradeep Vanguri, Ph.D., NSU Program Director, pointed out, “The NSU athletic training students were given a once in a lifetime opportunity for experiential learning under the big top. Attending the practice, the show and having the time to meet with Chad were world-class – just like the Cirque du Soleil organization.”

Higher Education

Ohio University Graduate Students Healing High Schoolers


Article reposted from The Post Athens
Author: Megan Henry

Amidst all the commotion of a high school wrestling match, Annabelle Herron stands calm as she observes, ready to assist if needed.

She is the sole athletic trainer for Nelsonville-York High School.

Toward the end of the wrestling meet, an athlete remains on the mat, in too much pain to stand. Herron walks onto the mat and talks to the athlete for a few minutes before helping him to his knees, and then gradually to his feet.

“I am that person making the decisions, it forces me to be confident in what I’m saying and what I’ve learned,” Herron, who is from Westminster, South Carolina, said.

She is a first-year graduate student who is one of 45 students in Ohio University’s graduate program for athletic training. Having a college student work as a high school athletic trainer is not uncommon in southeast Ohio.

OU students in the athletic training program are able to gain educational experience in their field while providing a service to an area that lacks medical care. In several counties throughout southeast Ohio, about 11 percent of the population that is 64 years old or younger do not have health insurance, according to 2016 County Profiles from the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Making The Calls

Emma Howells

Annabelle Herron, a first-year graduate student in the athletic training program, stands between two teams’ benches, on alert for athlete injuries during a high school wrestling meet at Nelsonville-York High School on January 25, 2017.

Forty-three of the students in the graduate program have graduate assistantships in which OU provides athletic trainers to local high schools, intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation, Chad Starkey, a professor in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, said.

“All the graduate students are licensed athletic trainers which means that technically they could go work full-time any place they want,” Starkey said.

As part of the graduate assistantship, which started in 1977, 20 high schools in the area have athletic trainers. Each high school receives one athletic trainer who is a graduate student, Starkey said.

The graduate students work for 30 hours a week total. They are paid for 20 hours a week and receive academic credit for the other 10 hours a week. The stipends range from $9,000 to $13,000 for Athens-based students, Starkey said. The graduate students are paid every two weeks, and they are paid on a ten month cycle.

The paid 20 hours per week is fixed and earns the graduate student their stipend, Starkey said. During busy weeks, a graduate student may work 35 hours in total, but OU’s program ensures that is then offset with a 25-hour week, Starkey said.

“In rare cases where a student is over-worked the program intervenes on their behalf,” Starkey said in an email.

The clinical coordinator organizes the learning environment, and makes sure students stay within the hour range, Starkey said.

When a player is injured, it is up to the athletic trainers to decide if he or she can play.

“Sometimes it’s hard (and) sometimes I struggle with it,” Emily Manfresca, the athletic trainer at Trimble High School, said. “I’ll look at what’s wrong and talk to them, obviously, and see where they are not just physically, but mentally.”

If an athlete is injured, Manfresca will modify what he or she can do, such as shooting baskets but not sprinting in practice. Manfresca, a Steubenville native, said she sometimes notices a difference between working with high school students and college athletes.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating because I have to remember that they’re minors,” Manfresca, a first-year graduate student in the athletic training program, said. “Sometimes you can talk to a college athlete a little differently than you can a high school athlete.”

Herron is cautious when it comes to making decisions about an athlete’s injury because she is still in her first year of graduate school, she said.

“Hopefully I’ll be more decisive (in the future), but … sometimes it terrifies me knowing that I’m 23 making health care decisions for these kids,” Herron said.

She said the emergency cases are easier to treat.

“The (cases) that you think you would literally just break down and freak out about, those are the easy ones because you know your steps, you know what you’re supposed to do,” Herron said.

Athens High School baseball coach Chris Stewart said the athletic trainers from OU’s athletic training program have been “absolutely phenomenal.”

“They’ve all worked well with the kids and that’s one of the things that I really enjoy watching is the relationship the kids developed with (the trainers) that are still students,” Stewart said.

Emma Howells

Mitch McKay, the Athens High School Head Athletic Trainer and second year graduate student in the athletic training program, advises a student on further treatment on January 27, 2017.

The Track To Training

Mitchell McKay, the athletic trainer for Athens High School, knows firsthand how important his job can be.

During the homecoming football game his senior year of high school in Ogden, Utah, he sustained a concussion.

“When I got tackled it was like an electrical shock straight down my head all the way to my tailbone,” McKay, a second year graduate student in the athletic training program, said. “The next thing I remember was being in the ER, finding out it was 36 hours later.”

Up until that hit, McKay said he had aspirations to play football beyond high school, but that injury changed everything.

“I sustained a severe concussion … which basically made me not want to play football in college, but I wanted to be around sports,” McKay said.

After recovering from his concussion, he started a job shadowing one of his athletic trainers.

“I really liked the idea of not being stuck in a cubicle all day, being able to be on a court or a football field,” McKay said.

A love of medicine attracts some athletic trainers to the job. Though Herron discovered that passion, she was not set on medical school.

“Being at a high school where we had an athletic trainer, it kind of bridged that gap to where it wasn’t necessarily med school, but it was medicine,” Herron said. “I love the atmosphere of athletics.”

Servicing Students

The athletic trainers at the high schools are the “primary health care providers” for athletes, Starkey said.

“Southeast Ohio is one of the most medically underserved (region) in the nation,” Starkey said. “The kids at most of these high schools would not have these types of health care without this program.”

Manfresca said during her third week on the job, a mother of a student came up to her and said “I think my daughter’s foot is broken. We don’t have insurance. Can you look at her and tell me what you think?”

Emma Howells

Mitch McKay, the Athens High School Head Athletic Trainer and second year graduate student in the athletic training program, tells a story to students and staff in his office on January 27, 2017.

She said she has also noticed “little things” about the way athletes approach medical care.

“Even if it’s (saying) something as simple as ‘go back to your doctor to get your stitches removed,’ ” Manfresca said. “They’ll be like ‘oh my dad will just cut them out.’ ”

At Nelsonville, when Herron tells an athlete to see a doctor they usually have the opportunity to seek that care, but not all athletes in the high school have that option, she said.

“I exhaust every limit that I have until I’m out of answers,” Herron said.

Financial struggles, not having healthcare coverage or having a “rub some (dirt) on it” mentality” are some of reasons her athletes are not able to seek medical attention, Herron said.

Medical care in southeast Ohio can be scarce and is not always the best options for the athletes, Herron said. She added that sometimes athletes would have to travel to Columbus for care.

McKay said one of the most rewarding parts about being an athletic trainer is when a parent or athlete is grateful for the trainer’s service. He likes seeing a previously injured athlete fully recovered, due to treatment.

Aside from treating injured athletes, it is also the athletic trainers’ job to keep the coaches updated on the status of athletes who may not be able to play yet.

“(The coaches have) been very willing to work with me and trust my opinion,” McKay said.

Stewart said having an athletic trainer helps to calm his nerves. McKay is the fourth athletic trainer Stewart has gotten to know during his 12-year career on the baseball staff.

“One thing for me personally as a baseball coach is that it gives me extreme peace of mind knowing that there’s someone more qualified than myself or my staff to handle injuries and issues that the players are dealing with physically,” Stewart said.


Higher Education

Dakota Wesleyan University to Offer 5 Years Masters Degree


Article reposted from Dakota Wesleyan University
Author: Dakota Wesleyan University

Dakota Wesleyan University recently received approval from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), making DWU one of two universities in South Dakota to offer a Master of Athletic Training degree and the only South Dakota program that finishes in five years.

DWU’s new athletic training master’s degree will take the place of its current Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training – a decision made based on new professional standards requiring professional athletic trainers to be master’s prepared.

This program change is nationwide but not all programs will survive the transition, said DWU’s Dr. Lana Loken and Dr. Dan Wagner. Loken is the clinical education coordinator and a professor of athletic training; and Wagner is the director of athletic training and professor; they co-chair the department, as well.

“Health care is constantly evolving and with it, the requirements in higher education and professional standards,” Wagner said. “What sophomores in athletic training are learning today is material I learned during my master’s program, so the content and rigor of athletic training programs really are on par with a master’s program. The change to DWU’s program will be that students at DWU can finish their courses and prerequisites in three years and apply for the two-year master’s degree.”

This “three-plus-two” program is highly flexible, they explained, and currently the only in the state.

“When going through our accreditation process, it was communicated to us that around 30 percent of programs will potentially offer the three-plus-two path,” Loken said.

Beginning in fall 2017, freshmen will declare as pre-athletic training and be advised by the athletic training faculty on courses and prerequisites that are required to apply for DWU’s athletic training program. This is a common model for medical professions which do not require a four-year bachelor’s degree to apply, only a designated number of course credits and/or clinical credits and prerequisites.

“Athletic training is a medical profession, and to follow suit in training and education, the program is adopting this ‘pre-med’ model, but that’s not to say that students could not still obtain a four-year degree and apply for our Master of Athletic Training program – they certainly can,” Loken said.

In cases where students wish to obtain a bachelor’s degree, wish to fulfill athletic eligibility, and/or transfer from another program, the application process will be the same as it is for those students who declared pre-athletic training as freshmen – the difference is time.

“You can take our program as quickly or as slowly as you want to,” Loken added. “There will be incoming freshmen with enough college credits that they could finish the pre-AT portion in two years and apply for the master’s program and if accepted, finish an M.AT. in four years. There are also students who will take six or seven years because they are student-athletes who red-shirt as freshmen and have four years of eligibility – we will work with all students on the path that works for them.”

For students who do declare as freshmen and choose the five-year track, they will not only graduate one year earlier than their peers, thus entering the work field sooner, but they will also benefit from DWU’s master’s program price tag: two years of DWU’s M.A.T. is less than one year of a bachelor’s.

“Our program is rigorous, it is accredited, we have a track record for testing and placement that we are extremely proud of, and by offering a three-plus-two degree completion program for a master’s, we know we are going to fill a niche in an industry that right now is losing a lot of programs nationwide that do not have the ability to push forward with these standards,” Wagner said.

Each incoming class will be capped at 20; the 2016 freshman class was offered the choice between a bachelor’s degree and the master’s program. Only three students chose the bachelor’s route, and they will be grandfathered into the program. DWU also has partner schools in area community colleges which have strong programs that pair well with DWU’s; the DWU admissions transfer counselor works with these schools to ensure that declared pre-AT students take all the necessary courses so when they graduate, they can finish their third year of prerequisites at DWU and immediately apply for the master’s program, still completing the full program in five years.

Any current or incoming student at DWU can discuss the new program with athletic training faculty at any time, and applications for the DWU MAT degree will open fall 2017; classes will begin summer 2018. Application forms will be made available online closer to date, but for more information about the program, clickhere.

Higher Education

Utah Athletic Trainer is Featured Woman of Science


Article reposted from Algor1thms for Innovation
Author: Kirstin Roundy

Scanning this glossy photo, it doesn’t look like we have a gender problem: A dozen young female scientists are striving and thriving, tackling medical problems from how burns transform fat to the relationship between the microbiota and immunity.

But when you consider the odds they faced just to get here, their accomplishments seem even more remarkable.

Women comprise half of medical school graduates and the same share of residents. Those numbers start to drop once training ends, however. Approximately 38 percent of full-time faculty members are women (40 percent at the University of Utah), but just one in five are full professors. And even fewer—16 percent—are deans.

And when it comes to clinical care, the disparity is even more acute: Women comprise 78 percent of the overall health care work force, make 80 percent of the health care decisions for their families, and represent three-fourths of family and informal caregivers. Still, just 18 percent of hospital CEOs are women (one in 10 in Utah).

Medicine isn’t alone; gender diversity lags in the “hard” sciences generally. In 2014, women earned 39 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the physical sciences (down three points from 10 years earlier). These basic scientists—chemists, biologists, molecular physicists—form the foundation of medical research. Making these cohorts more representative of the population at large is critical.

“We need a diverse biomedical workforce, because different people will bring different questions and different solutions,” says University of Utah Health Sciences Associate Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusion Ana Maria Lopez, M.D., MPH. “Greater diversity allows for better answers to the complex problems that we are facing and, ultimately, better care for our patients.”

The reasons women are not better represented in the ranks of professional mathematicians, engineers and physicians are complex and thorny. Besides decades of overt and unconscious bias, “soft” barriers also have thwarted efforts to achieve gender parity: a lack of role models and mentors, inflexible schedules, lower salaries, non-collaborative environments, and perceived bias toward male faculty (women physicians are paid 45 percent less than their male colleagues and receive half the research funding).

But while pinpointing the causes of the imbalance can be problematic, the results are undeniable: lost perspectives, unexplored research topics and missed opportunities. Those values can’t be allowed to slip away, says University of Utah Health Sciences Senior Vice President Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.

“We have a responsibility to make sure the path is open for talented scientists—who also happen to be women—to succeed in our system,” says Lee. “Broad perspectives and diverse opinions lead to better thinking and nimbler problem-solving.”

Of course, combatting long-standing social and structural imbalances takes time. At University of Utah Health, shifting to gender equity is a core value. Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlighted our efforts: We are training hiring committees to consider their own unconscious bias. We standardize interview questions and job offer letters. Every year, we analyze salaries. And we’re adjusting tenure and promotion policies to make it possible for women, and men, to take paid parental leave without being penalized.

Meanwhile, our junior faculty mentoring program has resulted in extramural funding rates of more than 90 percent for all participants. What will this mean for health care? In the end, Lee says, a diverse cohort of research scientists on the leading edge of medical innovation will result in better care. “This is about anticipating the needs of our patients, taking better care of them and improving their health along the way.”

That’s why this year’s Algorithms for Innovation features these 12 junior faculty members. From across the health sciences—the College of Nursing to Huntsman Cancer Institute—these women researchers are exploring questions ranging from placenta development to immunization rates for human papillomavirus in minority populations.

To be successful, they’ve connected with highly engaged mentors, maximized their research dollars and lifelong learning opportunities, and found or changed professional environments that match their need to balance the demands of work and life.

And we’re all better for it.

Charlie Hicks Little



For Charlie Hicks-Little, her interest in research began with lacrosse. She was curious as to why several of her collegiate lacrosse teammates had torn their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in situations where there was no outside force contacting the knee. So, while pursuing a master’s degree in sports medicine, she investigated the looseness of the knee joint ligaments in female athletes during the menstrual cycle to determine whether there was a hormone effect related to the occurrence of ACL injury. This research experience spurred her interest in the knee joint further. During her PhD training in biomedical science, Hicks-Little examined the functional effects of knee osteoarthritis in patients with a history of knee injury. “Once you have injured your knee or have torn your ACL, your joint changes. The joint surfaces of the knee alter and your joint movement never really returns to normal. Consequently, there is an early onset of osteoarthritis in the knee joint.”

As an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training in the College of Health, Hicks-Little continues to investigate the consequences of early onset arthritis in the knee joint while examining the effectiveness of different interventions to slow the inevitable deterioration. Now, in collaboration with the Brain Institute at the University of Utah, her research is also focused on another part of the body—the brain and head. Hicks-Little and her collaborators will be tracking brain health and head injuries in collegiate athletes over their careers. “Our group has just received Pac-12 grant funding to examine football and basketball athletes over their collegiate careers to investigate their brain health during sport participation,” said Hicks-Little.

For Hicks-Little, there are definite benefits from working at an academic medical center. “Everything you need to be successful is here and there are so many talented individuals you can collaborate with, learn from, and bounce ideas off. I think that is definitely what drove me to a career in academia,” Hicks-Little states. “Additionally, having the opportunity to interact daily with students to mentor them and develop the next generation of scientists is inspiring and enjoyable.”

Giavonni Lewis



Research has been a part of Giavonni M. Lewis’ career path from the beginning. During her undergraduate education, she participated in minority research training programs during the school year and research enrichment programs in the summer. After graduating, she participated in post-baccalaureate research at the NIH. Then she realized that her interests lay in the medical field. So she decided to go to medical school, completing a surgery residency and a burn surgery and critical care fellowship.

Now, Lewis is an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine, specializing in burn care and translation research. “When I left the NIH, I put research on the side to focus on being a clinician surgeon. And so now I find myself, as I start my career at the University of Utah, really dovetailing into my research. I’m analytical in my approach to clinical care. When I see issues I start to wonder how I can improve care. So translational medicine or translational science is where I live. It’s truly the clinical question that informs my research questions and approach.”

While the burn field is fairly young, there hasn’t been much change in burn care over the past 15-20 years. Lewis’ research focuses on looking for treatment strategies that are practical, logical, and can have a huge clinical impact. For instance, using thermography in a new way to assess burn depth for triage in disaster and rural settings and/or in combination with real-time surgical management in the operating room. Burn surgeons use burn depth to classify burn severity and treatment options but it’s not a precise process. “Unfortunately, we as burn surgeons, are only 60%-70% accurate in determining the depth of burn. Thermography is about 87% accurate. So thermography could be a great tool to provide the burn clinician with a significant amount of accuracy and objectivity and impact surgical management of burn injuries.”

For Lewis, choosing to work at an academic health center was an anticipated option; most regional burn centers are associated with an academic health center due to the amount of support required to deliver multidisciplinary care. But it has provided the working environment that Lewis was looking for and, with support from the Department of Surgery and the Surgical Research Core Laboratories, a place to complete her research.

Lori Gawron



Lori Gawron started her career path as registered nurse working in a neonatal intensive care unit. But then she decided that she wanted to have a procedural skill set and to do more research so she applied to medical school. After completing a fellowship in family planning and a master’s degree in public health, she is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Like many clinicians, Gawron’s interest in helping medically complex women make reproductive planning decisions was inspired by what she saw in the clinic. “You see adverse pregnancy outcomes happen. Delivering babies who have congenital abnormalities because the woman’s diabetes was poorly controlled. Seeing women get really sick during pregnancy because their disease was poorly controlled going into it. It can affect the woman, it can affect the baby, and it can affect the pregnancy outcomes.”

Gawron’s research focuses on helping providers identify medically complex patients, women with a chronic disease and an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, so they can assist the patients with reproductive planning. Since reproductive planning is not routinely discussed in all visits, there’s a national push to include it in electronic health records and make it part of preventive health care. “As an ob/gyn, people come into me knowing that they’re probably going to talk about those issues. But they don’t see me as frequently as they might see their gastroenterologist or whoever it is if they have a chronic disease. And so these are missed opportunities.”

Gawron is working with the biomedical informatics group at the University of Utah to develop tools that will work with any electronic health record and help providers identify medically complex patients. Gawron is also collaborating, through research and clinical care, with the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System to provide reproductive planning for service women and develop tools for their system.

Working at an academic medical center has been a perfect fit for Gawron. “I think I’m lucky that I like everything about academia. I love patient care. I love research. I love education. I like the administrative roles that seem to happen in academia, how you can really change departmental culture and also have interactions with all the other subspecialties, not just be in your bubble. And I think that you have a stronger voice for patient advocacy, too.”

Yelena Wu



Yelena Wu might be a clinical child psychologist and behavioral scientist now but she started out as a molecular cell biology major. In college, she was taking pre-med classes and loved learning about cell science. But then she paused. “I reached this point in sort of my sophomore/junior year where it was time to start making decisions. And I put this sign on my computer that said, ‘What do I enjoy thinking about?’ And I realized that although I love the science and I love medicine, what I really like thinking about is how do people actually cope with health and illness.” This epiphany inspired her to volunteer as a support group facilitator for kids whose parents had recently died, where she discovered her passion for working with people in that way, leading her to major in psychology.

Wu has always been interested in adherence to medical recommendations and finding ways to increase patient adherence to help achieve the best health outcomes possible. As an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and an associate member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Wu’s current primary research is in melanoma prevention. Utah has the highest incidence of melanoma in the country and a large population of people with mutations in CDKN2A/p16, a gene associated with increased melanoma risk. Wu and her collaborators have developed, and are testing, a Skype-based intervention to communicate the idea of melanoma family risk to kids and teach families behavioral and organizational strategies to help increase their adherence to preventive behaviors. “There are so many interesting issues from a behavioral scientist point of view. I realized that so much of what we know is how to help people who already have an illness like asthma and conditions like that. But how do we help kids who need to change their behavior now for something 30 years down the road?”

It’s this balance of clinical care and research that attracted Wu to an academic medical center. “I knew that I always wanted research to be part of my career so I chose institutions that had a really strong emphasis in that area. But I also wanted to remain open to incorporating more clinical service to my work so I looked for institutions that had equally strong opportunities on both the research and clinical sides. I learn so much from working with families clinically that could really inform my research. So if I focus on some of these high-risk populations, for example, I’m going to learn a lot that may extend to other populations, and hopefully in the course of my research, help people in the meantime.”

Vanessa Stevens



It’s always been about infectious disease for Vanessa Stevens. Ever since learning about antibiotic resistant bacteria in her medical microbiology class, she’s been hooked. “SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was emerging when I was in graduate school and I was taking a virology class and thought it was so fascinating,” Stevens related. “So I was very interested in outbreak investigation and that, of course, included hospital outbreaks and antibiotic resistance emergence. And I just started sort of following these things over time.” Stevens experimented with laboratory work during her undergraduate studies but realized that it wasn’t for her and switched her attention to public health. She completed a PhD in epidemiology and a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacoepidemiology and health outcomes.

Now, as research assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology in Internal Medicine, Stevens continues to be interested in disease outbreaks. Stevens’ research is focused on promoting the appropriate use of antibiotics for treating infections and reducing the impact of health care-associated infections. “The majority of my research is done at the VA and there are people from all different backgrounds who come together to study infectious diseases. We’ve got cognitive sciences, survey methods, simulation modelers, statisticians, clinicians, and epidemiologists. Every day I learn something new. It’s fantastic to be on the cutting edge of research in a particular field.”

For Stevens, working in academia provides her with the freedom to study what she wants and the flexible schedule that she needs. “Academics is far and away the best place to do things that are new, that are risky, that are cutting edge. Academics is the venue in which you’re constantly striving to keep up with the science,” Stevens shared. “Academics is a great choice for a woman. It’s hard but you know but it’s also flexible which is the thing that you need in order to successfully or at least semi-successfully manage all of the things that you need to do in your life.”

Lilliam Pinzon



To say that Lilliam Pinzón is a multitasker would be an extreme understatement. She is a research assistant professor in the School of Dentistry and section head for Public Health and Global Health. Since 2005, she’s completed a MS degree, a post-doctoral fellowship, a MPH degree, and advanced training in clinical research. She’s developed seven courses at the School of Dentistry and serves on 10 committees. And somehow she still finds time to work on her research on oral health in underserved populations in Mexico and Columbia. But this career path is where she has always wanted to be. “My main dream was always to be what I am,” Pinzón stated. “Since I was really little, I told my mom that I wanted to be a dentist.”

Pinzón’s research focuses on the use of atraumatic restorative treatments to repair cavities in teeth in vulnerable populations. This technique is done with hand instruments and doesn’t require electricity or water. After removing infected material from the tooth, a glass ionomer treatment is applied that releases fluoride to help harden the tooth. Pinzón is studying the impact of this treatment over time in two vulnerable populations, families in an isolated village in Columbia and HIV patients in Mexico.

For Pinzón, academia has been the only place she has wanted to be. “I worked for a little while in private practice but I love doing research so for me it was more interesting to work in academia. Then I could learn more and create science,” Pinzón related. “It’s a little bit difficult for me. Because I have a lot of responsibilities now, administrative because I’m section head and I have all these courses and committees. But being able to do my research, for me it means a lot because that’s my passion. I love doing research.”

Karen Gibbins



Karen Gibbins’ interest in research began while working with women during her obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) residency. During that time, she saw several patients with severe early preeclampsia, a condition that raises the mother’s blood pressure and can decrease blood flow to the placenta. “When preeclampsia happens at an early enough gestation before the baby can survive, you have to induce and you lose the pregnancy,” Gibbins explained. “Those are things that you take home with you. And they stay with you. If there’s something you can do to help, you want to do it.”

Now, as an assistant professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Gibbins has taken inspiration from her experiences in clinical care and applied it to studying the placenta, one of the least studied human organs, and what contributes to abnormal development. If the placenta isn’t working properly, it can result in problems ranging from stillbirth to preeclampsia to fetal growth problems. Currently, there is no way to predict when the placenta will malfunction and no tools to fix it when it does.

“Preeclampsia and fetal growth problems are treatable but we don’t have any treatments to make them better besides monitoring closely and then delivering when we think things are about to become even worse. So it results in preterm birth most of the time. If we could come up with some sort of treatment that could either prevent stillbirths or allow women to continue their pregnancies further, that would be huge.”

During her career, Gibbins was always impressed by clinician scientists so it’s not surprising that she chose to work at an academic medical center. “I’ve always loved the clinical side of OB/GYN and high risk pregnancy but I’ve always wanted to do something that affects more beyond the individual patient interaction. And that’s where research comes in. I like having the mix. I like that I get to go to clinic and do ultrasounds and work on labor and delivery but then also go to research meetings and think of new ideas and talk to my colleagues. And the idea that I could make a contribution that would ultimately go on to better care for large amounts of women and children, that’s what’s exciting about it.”

June Round



If it hadn’t been for the inspiration she received from her college courses and professors, June Round might have been an FBI agent by now. When Round started college, she was a criminal justice major with no interest in science. Then she took a general biology course and the light bulb flickered on. “It was that experience, taking those classes that made me realize that I liked biology,” Round stated. “I liked science. And it just clicked for me. Whereas the criminal justice classes, history classes, that stuff…I would fall asleep in those classes.” After changing her major to biology, Round completed her science education with a master’s degree in molecular biology and a PhD in microbiology and immunology.

It was during her PhD work that Round became interested in her current research, studying the links between the immune system and the commensal, or non-harmful, bacteria that saturate our bodies. Specifically, Round studies how these bacteria interact with our immune system and help promote healthy immune system responses. “I always thought of us as very sterile creatures but that’s not true. The minute we come into the world, we are born with these bacteria. We’re swimming in a sea of microbes that our immune system totally ignores or actually actively tolerates. I’m fascinated by how we could have studied the immune system for decades and ignored this very basic, and probably very important, interaction between microbes and the immune system.”

As an assistant professor in the Division of Microbiology and Immunology in the Department of Pathology, Round opted to work at an academic health center for the creativity and the freedom that is here. “I started my lab studying inflammatory bowel disease, but we have since branched out to the central nervous system because there’s very collaborative people here at Utah. There’s not that restriction [in academia] so you have the freedom to get into new, exciting areas.”

Heidi Hanson



You can call her a data geek but Heidi Hanson won’t mind a bit. As a research assistant professor in the Division of Public Health and population specialist with the Utah Population Database (UPDB), Hanson thrives on data. “I love data,” Hanson explained. “I’m a huge data geek. Nothing makes me more happy then when we get big datasets.” After getting her bachelor’s degree, Hanson worked for the UPDB but left for a career opportunity in the private sector. When that didn’t fit with her career path, she returned to work with the UPDB and went to graduate school to get her PhD.

Hanson’s research uses large datasets in the UPDB and statistics to find patterns of disease. “I’m trying to figure out the exposures throughout the life course, environmental and genetic, that contribute to the way that we age and get disease,” Hanson stated. One topic that Hanson is studying is family patterns of increased cancer risk and identifying the factors from birth to death that contribute to that risk. “I’m really interested in the life course perspective, which investigates how exposures as early as in utero affect the way we age later in life. A large proportion of my research focuses on cancer risk because many cancers have a long latency period. It is essential to understand how exposures early in life lead to adverse health outcomes later in life.”

For Hanson, working in an academic health center has allowed her the freedom to really explore different ways of looking at things. Hanson elaborated, “I absolutely love what I do. However, part of me loving what I do is the fact that I had the ability to grow in directions that I wanted to or needed to in order to progress my research.” Working in an academic health center has also provided Hanson with the opportunity to work with people from multiple fields, something that she believes is important in order to do good science. “Sometimes you become so focused on your ideas that you forget to really question them. That’s why collaborations from multiple disciplines are so important. Including multiple points of view, from physicians, sociologists, computer scientists, and other academic disciplines, is essential to furthering knowledge. Good science can’t be done until we start to really approach it from a multidisciplinary standpoint.”

Trudy Oliver



Trudy Oliver knew that she wanted to go to college but, as a first generation college student, she wasn’t sure what that looked like. “I grew up in Oklahoma on a farm and my parents didn’t graduate from college so I didn’t know a whole lot about academic anything.” But, once she got there, Oliver had mentors that guided her into summer research programs and a PhD program in cancer biology.

Now, as an assistant professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences and an investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute, Oliver has developed squamous and small cell lung cancer mouse models in order to test drug responses and drug resistance and identify new treatment therapies. “In lung cancer, like in other types of cancer, there are multiple types. And even when you have a certain type of lung cancer, it doesn’t mean that yours would behave the same as mine even if it were the same type. If you put any kind of stress on it, the ones that have resistance to whatever your threat is, those survive and grow up and take over…Cancer is the ultimate chameleon.”

For Oliver, working at an academic medical center gives her the opportunity to be her own boss. “There is a hierarchy but by and large, I decide everything. From when to get up, to when to stop, to what we’re going to work on, to who I hire, to when we change directions. All of it.” But it also allows her to be able to follow her passion for doing science wherever it takes her. “There’s nothing more exciting then when you figure something out based on reason, that you’ve really worked hard at, and you’re the first person in the world to have discovered that. That’s just an amazing feeling. And it’s much more of a pure endeavor in that we’re seeking knowledge not always for a product or to make money. But what we do has the potential to help people.”

Deanna Kepka



Deanna Kepka has always been interested in disparities, those differences in education, resources and health care that can exist between two different populations. But it wasn’t until she was a Peace Corps volunteer studying nonprofit management that she realized she was interested in research and public health. “I worked on a project to improve healthy lifestyle choices to prevent HIV infection among at-risk youth. While I was there, I decided to do an evaluation of the program I was working on. I wrote an abstract for the International AIDS Conference and won a scholarship to go and present that research. So that kind of exposed me to the world of research and got me more into public health.”

Now, as an assistant professor in the College of Nursing and an investigator at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Cancer Control and Population Sciences, Kepka seeks to reduce cancer health disparities by trying to increase cancer screening and cancer prevention behaviors among vulnerable populations. She also serves as team leader for the Health Disparities and Cancer Prevention (HEDCAP) group within Cancer Control and Population Sciences.

As director of the Intermountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition, Kepka’s research focuses on improving the rates of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. “The Intermountain West is a region with some of the lowest rates of HPV vaccination in the United States,” Kepka explained. “HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and we have this cancer prevention vaccine that is severely underutilized. So it just seemed like a really important health issue.” She is also collaborating with Lilliam Pinzon from the School of Dentistry to assess dental student knowledge about HPV-related head and neck cancers and their attitudes towards recommending the vaccine to their patients when they become practicing dentists.

Working at an academic medical center allows Kepka to act as a bridge from the latest science to the vulnerable communities she’s trying to help. “I really enjoy the stimulation and being at the heart of where science happens,” Kepka shared. “But then disseminating the best strategies we know to prevent cancer to communities. I like having that role. What’s the point in developing all these different innovative strategies to prevent cancer if they’re actually not being used? I like to make that happen.”

Cindy Matsen



Growing up with a father who was a family practitioner, Cindy Matsen knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a doctor. But it wasn’t until her third year of residency that she decided to be a breast surgeon. “It was because I had mentor here who was a breast surgeon and I realized that I really liked what she did,” Matsen explains. “I like doing low risk, high impact surgery, which is what breast cancer surgery is. I like having longer-term relationships with my patients. And I really like complex decision-making, which is where the research part really comes in.”

Matsen, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine, splits her time between working with patients and conducting research on how doctors and patients communicate and how to improve that communication. “I’m really interested in how doctors and patients talk to each other and how they make decisions together.”

Matsen uses qualitative and quantitative methods to study the techniques doctors use when communicating with patients and to see how changes to those techniques can impact decision-making. She believes that doctors, by making small behavioral changes in how they communicate with patients, can have major impacts on health. “I think we often think we have an inherent understanding of who somebody is when they walk in the door but we have no idea. We have medical information but we have very little information on who they are as a person and what’s actually important to them. And if we did a better job of recognizing those things, I think that our outcomes would be a lot better.”

By working at an academic health center, Matsen was able to combine her interests in clinical care and research into one career. “There’s always new things happening, especially in breast cancer, but I feel like research gives you another outlet. It kind of gives you a creative outlet to really think about, ‘Okay. If I think this is a problem, how would I fix that? How can I make this better?’ And I like that idea. That’s the thing I like in academic medicine is that it’s about improving things. You have a much broader impact when you do research. You can actually change things for your whole field.”

Higher Education

Barbara Long Elected CAATE Comissioner


Article reposted from Augusta Free Press
Author: Augusta Free Press

Dr. Barbara H. Long, an associate professor of health and human sciences and division head of the division of professional studies at Bridgewater College, has been elected to the post of commissioner by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

Dr. Long will begin her duties in August 2017, although she will attend the February CAATE meeting as an observer. She will hold the position for at least three years, with a possibility of renewal for up to six years’ service.

Among the duties of the CAATE commission is to develop standards for athletic training accreditation, act on accreditation requests and issues and assure the public that accredited institutions meet minimal quality assurance standards. A spokesman for CAATE noted that Dr. Long’s interest in serving as a commissioner centered on a commitment to transparent dialogue with all stakeholders, and a focus on both current and future needs of the profession of athletic training.

“Being elected as a CAATE commissioner is an honor and allows me to provide a voice for programs, like Bridgewater’s, that are small, yet develop outstanding clinicians in the athletic training profession,” said Dr. Long. “To be selected by the majority of program directors across the country as a Commissioner is humbling and a tribute to the name that Bridgewater College has for being a strong athletic training program.”

Long, who graduated from Bridgewater College in 1988 with a degree in biology, earned her master’s degree in sports medicine and fitness management from the United States Sports Academy and her Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Shenandoah University. She was certified by the Board of Certification as an athletic trainer in 1989 and licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine as an athletic trainer in 2002.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.