NYS Legislative Staff Members Visit University at Albany Athletic Training Room

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As part of the continued lobbying efforts by the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association (NYSATA) to support the recently introduced bills A6678 and S4465 to update their NYS Practice Act, athletic trainers (ATs) across the state are opening their athletic training facilities to visits by NYS legislators. Already this fall, several key legislative staff members made a visit to the University at Albany’s athletic training room to see ATs in action firsthand.

Head AT Jay Geiger MS, ATC (right) and Asst AT Joe Tegnander, MS, ATC (left) tape the ankle of Univ. at Albany football players

Observing athletic trainers directly ... gave me a better understanding of their role in ensuring the safety of the athletes.

Despite increased exposure over recent years, a true understanding of the “Athletic Trainer” - educational background, skill set, and even job responsibilities - remains foreign to many in the general public. Typically, it is current or former athletes who had personal interaction with ATs who are more familiar with the athletic training profession of today. Even spectators who see medical staff – often ATs - running onto a game field to tend to an injured athlete may not realize who they are and are even less are familiar with all that ATs do as part of their job off the field.

It is for this reason that NYSATA is encouraging its members to invite their local legislators to observe them during a typical day at work – so they can see firsthand the breadth of what ATs do! As a result of such visits, they will be better educated about the AT profession and better able to communicate to other legislators the importance of the AT bills - A6678 and S4465. The first visit was organized at the University at Albany’s football athletic training room for key NYS legislative members and their staff. Invitations were extended to the offices of the AT bill sponsors in both the Senate (Grisanti, R-Buffalo) and the Assembly (Levine, D-Long Island), as well as several members of the Higher Education committee, where the bills are housed in both the Assembly and Senate.

Staff members from Senator Grisanti’s office were the first to agree and showed tremendous interest in getting a bird's-eye view on the AT profession. Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Long Island), Chair of the Senate Higher Education committee, also graciously accepted and sent one of his staff members to attend.

The stage was set for the afternoon of Wednesday, August 14th where University at Albany Head Athletic Trainer Jay Geiger MS, ATC led the legislative contingent into the football athletic training room. NYSATA Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Christine Jenkins also joined the group, helping to answer questions and describe the action as Gieger and his staff worked to prepare the football players for practice.

The legislative staff watched as the ATs carried out their traditional pre-practice duties of stretching muscles and taping joints, such as ankles and wrists. Of particular interest to the legislative staff, however, was the myriad of additional duties also carried out by the ATs before, during, and after practice.

Geiger stepped aside from the action to explain, “I work closely with our team Orthopedist, as well as other healthcare professionals, to manage the healthcare of all the [football] athletes. If something beyond what I can do, I refer them to the correct professional.” Speaking specifically about his relationship with the team Orthopedist, Geiger added, “We talk almost every day during the fall sports season.”

Additional administrative duties include daily communications with the coaching staff about injured athletes, coordinating practice and game staffing with assistant ATs to ensure the most efficient distribution of personnel, and completion of medical records and injury documentation. Other duties that come up intermittently include scheduling referral and imaging appointments, submitting insurance claims, and maintaining supply inventory for hundreds of student-athletes.

Geiger described his jam-packed daily routine: morning rehabilitation sessions, afternoon pre-practice prep in the AT room, being on the sideline during practice to care for injuries, and opening up the AT room again after practice to complete athlete care for the day. Then, of course, there is working the games each weekend. Planning and set-up of medical aspects for home games, including emergency protocols and supplies, like AEDs. Geiger also collaborates regularly with the local EMT chapter for game management and he even sits on the board for the local EMT association. Road games also require detailed preparation and time for travel.

“It was very helpful to observe athletic trainers directly as they worked,” said Nicole Stewart, Director of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “It gave me a better understanding of their role in ensuring the safety of the athletes.”

After observing pre-practice preparation and administrative duties, the legislative group followed the AT staff to the football field to catch a glimpse of the ATs at work during practice. Almost immediately, as if by design, a football player went down on the field with an injury. They were able to witness firsthand Geiger and his AT staff tending to the athlete and carrying out the initial assessment and care.

Laura Manley, Director of Policy Development for Senator Grisanti, agreed. “Having the opportunity to meet with them [AT staff] was a privilege. It gives one a better appreciation of their role and I look forward to working with the AT community to educate my peers to help pass their critical legislation.”

The visit and experience was well-received by all of the legislative staff members in attendance. They were as appreciative of the opportunity as the University at Albany AT staff was to have them there.

NYSATA and its member ATs are working to plan more visits throughout the fall, specifically targeting the NYS Senators and Assemblymembers themselves as they spend time in their home districts. Just this past week, Geiger and his staff have again played host to another legislative visit, this time with Sara Sorenson, Legislative Analyst for Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-New York), Chair of the Assembly Higher Education committee.

For any NYS legislators who are interested in arranging an athletic training facility visit, please contact NYSATA’s Governmental Affairs Chair, Christine Jenkins, at ga(at)gonysata2(dot)org.

NYSATA, founded in 1976 and incorporated in 1989, stands to advance, encourage and improve the profession of athletic training by developing the common interests of its membership for the purpose of enhancing the quality of healthcare for the physically active in New York State. Comprised of over 1,200 certified and practicing ATs, NYSATA is the state-wide affiliate of the regional Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association (EATA) and District Two of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA).

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