January 15, 2022

Athletic Therapy Students Share First-Hand Experiences from Their Placements

Student placements are an important part of becoming an Athletic Therapist, providing students with an opportunity to develop their skills and gain hands-on experience. We spoke with two students, Kia Halsall and Cheryl Waldner, to share their placement experiences and what they learned as part of their preparation to become Certified Athletic Therapists (CAT(C)).

Both Kia and Cheryl are students at CATA accredited institutions. CATA grants accreditation to Athletic Therapy programs at select post-secondary institutions to help train students for their careers in Athletic Therapy.

Kia Halsall, with The Toronto Blue Jays

Sheridan College student Kia Halsall had the incredible opportunity to do her placement with the Toronto Blue Jays. She was thrilled to receive the news in late July that they were coming home to Toronto and she was able to join the team as an Athletic Therapy Intern. “Working with the Blue Jays provided a window into the professional sporting environment,” Kia shared. “I experienced the rigorous schedule as well as preparation that it takes for a Major league Baseball team to operate.”

Figure 1 photo credit: Steven Crawford

Cheryl Waldner, with Revolution Rehab Clinic

Cheryl Waldner did her student placement through the University of Winnipeg at Revolution Rehab, a multidisciplinary clinic. This opportunity allowed her to learn from other professions like Massage Therapy and Physio which was a very eye-opening experience. Cheryl was fortunate to have two supervisors who had two different approaches to their treatment. This introduced Cheryl to a variety of new rehab exercises and allowed her to improve form and technique during treatment.

How did your placement help you learn about Athletic Therapy?

Both Kia and Cheryl had the opportunity to learn first-hand about athletic therapy and gain exposure to the different ways athletic therapy provides elite-level healthcare to clients or patients.

Kia’s placement allowed her to not only learn the skills needed in order to be an effective Athletic Therapist, but also the ability to communicate effectively with peers, athletes, coaches and other members of a healthcare team. While working with the Blue Jays, her responsibilities included assisting the medical team with various tasks, modality application, preparing the therapy space as well as preparing the dugout for games. She learned a lot through observing the medical staff and gained exposure to many different techniques and technology that she was previously unfamiliar with.

As one of her supervisors had many clients that were expecting mothers, Cheryl experienced a different side to athletic therapy with her placement. Although this isn’t something covered in her program, the exposure to this area inspired Cheryl. She shared it was an area she would love to pursue and continue to learn more about going forward! Being involved with multiple supervisors has made her realize that there isn’t one way to treat injuries. Treatment can be very movement-based or it could involve massage, TENS, electronic muscle stimulation (EMS), acupuncture, dry needling, just to name a few.

Figure 2 photo credit: Cheryl Waldner

What was the best part about your placement?

Kia’s favourite part about her placement was getting to experience athletic therapy within a professional sporting environment. The players received treatment and played home games in an outstanding facility equipped with access to endless equipment and technology. It was an especially amazing experience to learn from Athletic Therapists who have years of experience treating professional athletes, travelling with the team and working under intense schedules and expectations.

Figure 3 photo credit: Steven Crawford

When asked what her favourite part about her placement was, Cheryl said it came down to her amazing supervisors and the rewarding experience they were able to create for her. “I couldn’t have asked for better mentors in this profession. They both have a unique way of teaching and they are good at giving constructive criticism that makes you want to improve. They are both so passionate about athletic therapy and it shows with how they treat their clients and how they teach their students. I always leave the clinic with something new that I have learned or improved in.”

Both Kia and Cheryl had rewarding student placement experiences that allowed them to further develop the skills and practical knowledge required to become the next generation of Certified Athletic Therapists (CAT(C)). We’re thrilled they were able to share more about what they learned to give insight into this important part of athletic therapy education!

Did you enjoy learning about Kia and Cheryl’s student placement experiences for Athletic Therapy? Stay up to date with CATA by following us on Instagram and follow our new Facebook and LinkedIn pages as we continue to provide you with more exciting looks into the field of athletic therapy!