20 written exams, 8 practicals, and 6 papers later…

Another academic year has come to a close (FINALLY), and I am a proud survivor (sometimes thriver) of third year athletic therapy- a year renowned for being among the toughest. 27 exams total, in 10 courses- with countless hours spent practicing- on top of balancing field work in the clinic and the football fields, and somehow finding time to read stuff. It’s safe to see why year 3 is a little (in)famous.

Within this year I got my first taste of the practical side of things, real patient interaction and real emergency response.  Less then 6 months ago if you had put me in a room and told me to effectively assess an injury, deal with it appropriately, and create a rehab program to properly return the patient to appropriate function- there is no way I would have known where to start. If you had thrown me into an emergency scenario and told me to manage it? Disaster might have ensued!

The amount that I’ve learned in what is relatively a very short period of time continues to stun me.  At the same time the amount that I still need to learn, mainly just through experience, is equally as stunning. I set some goals for myself at the beginning of both semesters, and managed to achieve them for the most part. I definitely did much better in the first part of the year, with second semester burnout (and a broken leg) catching me off guard.

Where first semester brought me the self-discipline to get the tough work done efficiently and the ability to be examined practically- second semester taught me to take a step back and do what my body needed to get things done. By the time I got to finals this term, there wasn’t much discipline left- but thankfully there was enough practical and stored knowledge left over to get me through. Practical exams by the end of this year turned into more fun then nerve wracking.

Third year also provided me with a ever growing network of fellow students and colleagues.  With so many opportunities to jump in and get involved, and so many practicals to practice for- it would have been difficult not to become close with classmates. Taking a chance and submitting one of my posts to the national athletic therapy association (CATA) ended up getting it published, which was pretty sweet! Click here for that post. The opportunity also came about for me to do some teaching, both in a fitness respect as well in formal courses with the University. This is definitely something I hope to do more of in the future!

It’s safe to say this year came with some ups and downs. Both time and stress management skills came into action, and one of the most important lessons I learned is probably managing myself under pressure. As an AT student, we deal with a lot of pressure- from our peers, our patients, our profs, the requirements of the degree, and most of all ourselves. Knowing how to micromanage our overwhelmed brains and still extract knowledge to perform is what we do best. It’s a skill we need to do well in our chosen profession, and we need to do it maintaining professionalism and reactivity to our client’s needs.

A concern for me in the past, and especially at the beginning of this year was how I was going to effectively manage to pursue a career in AT as well as continuing my pursuit of my athletic riding goals. Over the last few months I’ve discovered ways in which to optimize my knowledge and practical skills while building a business in the sport I have experience in.

What started as just a training class for riders is ever evolving into new ideas. Since implementing the class I’ve been able to brainstorm with profs over where I might go with this, and recently have begun work on setting up a position assessment program for equestrians- using my knowledge of orthopaedic assessment, biomechanics, and training. I feel very lucky to have endless resources to keep my ideas running, and look forward to developing a directed study on the topic of rider biomechanics and training. As this is an area of the sport not as commonly looked at- I have a chance to create something new to give back to my sport and build a business while maintaining involvement and continuing my own training.

This year I’ve also gotten the chance to step into student politics- and next year will be taking over leadership of the Kinesiology Students Association. I’m excited about the challenge of rebuilding our student involvement schemes in the inaugural year of the brand new athletic and health centre at the University of Winnipeg.

Some key lessons from this year:

  • Day planners are a glorious thing. Thank you moleskin.
  • Athletic tape can be used for many purposes, and should be on hand at all times
  • When people look at you like you’re the one in charge… you should probably do something.
  • It’s okay to not feel guilty about taking a day off.
  • Forgetting your wallet is the only way to ensure you won’t spend money on Starbucks.
  • Smile at the bus driver- because one day you will forget your bus pass and have no change… and it will be -40.
  • Being someone that gets along with everyone is handy.
  • Asking questions is never wrong.
  • Asking for help is never wrong.
  • Saying no is okay.
  • Using crutches to ensure a good spot on the bus is okay.
  • Every prof has a different idea of what APA format is, even if they all recommend the same source for formatting.  You can’t win that battle.
  • Practicals become less scary once you realize that everyone marking you was in the exact same spot as you not too long ago.
  • There is a limit to what you can do.

And so, after writing my last exam on Tuesday- I’ve been enjoying some quiet time. My schedule is dedicated to work, riding, training myself, mental breaks, and doing what I want. I have a week before spring term starts and I’m making the most of the slack schedule (filling it up quicker then I should). Tomorrow I have my first lesson with M&C of the year, and am both excited and nervous. I’ve been back in the saddle for a few weeks now and am feeling pretty good- but not all the way normal yet. However, each time I ride things get better. I’ve been given the okay to begin impact training again by my doctor and ATs- so will hopefully ease my way back into running and conditioning work (now that I’m not hella burnt out and a little motivated again).

 

Among other things I’ve begun writing for MORfit’s blog, and may be publishing pieces on another blog related to rider fitness in the near future. Stay tuned for more on that! Click here for my first post for MORfit, on time management. Hopefully I’ll be a little more motivated to write more for you readers as well, now that my head is out of it’s end of the semester grog.

I also will be working on ideas for the new stream of my functional training for the equestrian business over the next week or so, looking to set up clinics later in May. Funny- biomechanics has become a staple in my goals.. Upon faced with my first ever biomech course and respective project, I was in tears at what seemed to be such an impossible subject for me to grasp. Now it’s something regularly found in my daily vocabulary.

Until next time!

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