Athletic Training Students Engage in Travel Tour to Ireland
Group Learns about Athletic Training/Sports Medicine in Europe
June 5, 2013
Some of the Wilmington contingent is pictured at Ireland's Trim Castle, including, from the left, Veronica Burnam, Caleb Betz, Catlin Shilling, Addie Roberts, Rachel Drake, Jen Walker, Jami Kolb, Katie Bennett and Caroline Guindon.
School may be out for the summer, but learning seldom stops for Wilmington College athletic training students.
AT faculty member Jennifer Walker led a contingent of students from WC and several other schools on a 12-day study tour to Ireland in May. While they did their share of sightseeing on “The Emerald Isle,” the trip was expressly geared toward exploring athletic training and sports medicine.
“We got to talk with medical professionals from pro teams and visit with officials from academic programs at several universities,” said Walker, assistant professor of athletic training and a 1997 graduate of Wilmington’s acclaimed program.
They learned the athletic training/sports medicine model is quite rare in Europe, as Irish sports teams often utilize allied health professionals known as “physios,” which essentially are those trained in physical therapy. Physios that receive additional training then become qualified to “work the sidelines” of athletic competitions much like athletic trainers do in America.
Senior Caleb Betz said athletic training is “a very new concept” in Europe and he learned that, very often, unqualified volunteers handle AT duties with sports teams.
“So much of their medical training is done in a clinical setting that the physios often do not have a clue about dealing with and treating traumatic and other acute, athletics-related injuries,” he said. “I think the biggest lesson learned is how great we truly have it in the States when it comes to medical coverage (in athletics).”
However, they discovered a school with a program that incorporated much of the American athletic training philosophy and practice.
“We found out there is one true athletic training program in Ireland — and, from what they told us, maybe in all of Europe,” Walker said.
Dublin City University hosts an American-style program and, after speaking with Walker and the AT students, it may explore seeking formal accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education in the U.S. In turn, DCU’s program graduates may even look into taking the same AT certification examination administered to Wilmington students.
This spring 100 percent of WC seniors taking the national certification exam passed on their first try, compared to a national average 60 percent success rate. Also, last summer, the College learned it met the highest standards set forth by the accrediting body, thus earning the “gold standard,” maximum 10-year accreditation.
Conversations also touched upon Ireland’s politics, health care system and the role of sport in Irish society during their visits to DCU, University College Dublin and Gaelic Athletic Association, as well as with medical personnel for amateur sports clubs and professional soccer and rugby teams.
On top of that, WC’s students met AT students from other American colleges and universities on the tour.
“It gave our students a great opportunity to network with other athletic training students,” she added.
Betz said this gave him the chance to compare AT programs at NCAA Division I, II and (like WC) III schools — and Wilmington came out looking very good.
“I really felt that Wilmington had a step-up on many of the programs, especially from an academic standpoint,” he said, also noting WC’s clinical rotation schedule that “allowed us to get our feet wet in so many different areas” was not as prevalent in other programs.
Another plus for Wilmington that made some of the other schools’ students a bit envious is WC’s practice of allowing AT majors to participate in a sport, Betz added.
Some of their tourist destinations included a Dublin tour, the Ring of Kerry, Boyne Valley, Cliffs of Moher and Giants Causeway. Walker plans to offer an international study tour every two years with Brazil or Australia likely destinations in 2015.