While Whitworth’s Athletic Training Education Program professors spend most of their time educating and preparing students for careers in athletic training and providing exceptional patient care to Whitworth’s athletes, they are also dedicated to serving in leadership roles in regional and national professional groups, such as the Northwest Athletic Trainers Association.
In March 2005 Spokane hosted the Annual Business Meeting and Clinical Symposium of the Northwest Athletic Trainers Association, District 10. More than 400 athletic trainers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska attended the event, which was co-chaired by Assistant Athletic Trainer and Instructor Todd Sandberg, who also led a workshop on management of the cervical spine-injured athlete. Instructor Jolene Fisher conducted a workshop on emergency cardiac care, and Director of the Whitworth Athletic Training Education Program Russ Richardson helped coordinate the meeting/symposium as part of his role as secretary/treasurer for District 10.
As chair of the University Student Athlete Trainers’ Committee, Assistant Athletic Trainer Mike Ediger chaired a student forum during the annual meeting that gave students an opportunity to present research and educational programs to the other students in attendance, as well as to take part in career-development workshops.
"As a professional, it’s always good to put yourself in positions to grow, stretch and learn new things," Ediger says. "This profession is really growing and changing, and I want to be a part of that process."
Ediger’s leadership position allows him to promote Whitworth’s academic programs and gain ideas from other athletic training programs.
"Being in a leadership position and positively representing Whitworth in this arena opens doors for our students, and it is a chance for me to network with other professionals," he says.
All of the students currently enrolled in the ATEP attended the student forum, during which juniors Cameron Collings, Katie Vaughn and Lindsay Arnold gave a presentation on identifying and assessing the need for high school athletic trainers in Washington state.
Whitworth faculty members’ leadership in professional groups allows them to contribute their expertise to help shape the development of athletic training on a state and national level, and to learn about new trends and issues within the athletic-training realm and apply that knowledge to their teaching at Whitworth.
Seeing their professors serving outside the classroom motivates students to become more involved in their future profession, says Richardson.
"Whitworth benefits greatly from faculty involvement in these types of leadership roles,” Richardson says. "I typically know the current trends and issues that will have an impact upon my discipline before most of the general membership does. We are able to make curricular adjustments and instructional modifications before most programs learn about the changes."
Prior to serving as secretary/treasurer of the Northwest Athletic Trainers Association, District 10, Richardson completed six years as the NWATA district meeting coordinator, which entailed negotiating contracts and organizing meetings and symposia. When Whitworth belonged to the NAIA, Richardson was president of the NAIA Athletic Trainers Association from 1993-95.
"There is a profound sense of satisfaction that I get by volunteering to serve my profession," Richardson says. "Actively engaging in trends and issues helps to keep me energized and passionate for my profession. As an active participant, I can help to prepare a future for our students."
Head Athletic Trainer Melinda Larson volunteers as the registration coordinator for the NWATA District 10 annual convention. She enters registration information into a database she created that tracks information about the registrants, presenters, national office staff and exhibitors. Larson also designs and produces nametags for attendees and helps with on-site registration at the convention.
"Volunteering on behalf of my professional organization benefits me personally as well as the membership," Larson says. "Whitworth University benefits from my involvement as I relate my knowledge, experience and serving attitude to our students."
Assistant Athletic Trainer Todd Sandberg chairs the Hall of Fame Committee of the Northwest Athletic Trainers Association, District 10. In that position, Sandberg develops, promotes and oversees the process of nominating a candidate for the District 10 Hall of Fame. Sandberg considers himself and the other athletic trainers ambassadors of Whitworth in their volunteer roles.
"Other regional athletic trainers see that Whitworth trainers are making a mark professionally in the district," Sandberg says. "I think it’s important that current athletic-training students are led by instructors who are committed to academic and professional excellence."