By Annie Molek, UNL Athletic Training Student
Most think of our Injury Prevention and Care (IPC) services as a place to visit after getting injured. However, many people don’t realize IPC is also a clinical site for the academic athletic training degree program. Students take academic courses and complete hands-on clinical competencies in addition to their time in the classroom. It is similar to what nurses, physician assistants and physicians do, although athletic training students at UNL perform their clinical rotations at the undergraduate level. Below, Annie Molek shares her experience in the UNL Athletic Training Program and her clinical rotation in the IPC setting.
“It is no doubt that the Athletic Training Program here at UNL is a competitive major and becoming more and more popular with each incoming freshman class. Last fall, 126 students and I declared athletic training as our major. As the year went on, the class size dwindled (due to grades, rigorous coursework,or disinterest in the field), leaving 46 of us still left at the start of the spring semester. By the time it came to apply and interview for the program, 32 of us remained. Of those 32 applicants, there were 19 of us accepted into the program.
Athletic training majors are required to take academic course work that is heavy in the science background, as well as athletic training courses. We also have clinical rotation experiences. For the most part, upperclassmen athletic training students are paired up with a certified athletic trainer and assigned to a Varsity Husker sports team. We are required to be at practice with the team or in one of our Athletic Medicine facilities at the Bob Devaney Center, North Stadium or a satellite facility (Pinnacle Bank Arena, Haymarket Park, etc). In these facilities, we are to observe and aid in the rehabilitation processes for injured athletes. We help facilitate their healing and learn in the process.
Sophomore Athletic Training Students, Annie Molek, Caitlin Nelson, and Erin Lynch during their 8-week clinical rotation. Caitlin and Erin also work in IPC when not completing clinical hours.
However, there is also a clinical rotation site that takes place in the Injury Prevention and Care Center at the Campus Rec Center on city campus. Fulfilling this clinical requirement is a bit different than being assigned with an athletic team.
1. Type of people treated. At IPC, we are treating injuries for the general university population rather than Husker athletes. This means that we see students, faculty, staff and sometimes youth patrons. In IPC, we see a variety of athletic ability–from patrons who have competed in athletic competitions and marathons to people who are just starting their journey with exercise and athletic endeavors. Due to the amount of people who use the Campus Rec Center and the varying abilities, this increases risk of injuries compared to varsity athletic teams with elite, trained athletes.
2. Presence of therapeutic modalities. Since UNL Athletic Medicine has a full-time physician overseeing the athletic training facilities, the certified athletic trainers are fortunate enough to provide almost any therapeutic modality that is needed to rehabilitate an athlete’s injury and reduce the risk of injuring it further. IPC relies heavily on the two most basic therapeutic modalities: heat and ice. We use these in the forms of ice bags, ice massage, and moist hot packs (which are available to anyone with an NCard for free). IPC is student fee funded (UPFF) so services can not be duplicated in two different entities on campus. If a student is in need of therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound, electric stimulation or rehabilitation for their injuries, they are referred to the University Health Center to utilize the physical therapy services. IPC tends to be more of an acute care facility.
Although we do not follow a specific Husker sport, we have the opportunity to learn skills listed in our required checkoffs, and even skills that aren’t listed. The certified athletic trainers on staff, Robin Bowman and Jen Krueger, make sure that we have more than enough time to not only learn these certain skill sets, but to practice and demonstrate them as well. Since we are treating students, we get a lot of hands-on experience in IPC when evaluating and treating an injury. For example, when using special tests to evaluate and help determine a specific injured area, Robin or Jen will explain what they are doing and why they are performing this specific test. More often than not, the student patron will even allow us to test the body part ourselves, so we are able to not only see but feel the differences.
I am currently in my seventh week in my IPC rotation and have learned substantially more than when observing four different sports last year. However, I was a freshmen last year, so everything was still shiny and new. In IPC, the opportunities we get to tape, perform first aid, stretch and evaluate injuries are seemingly endless. Not only do we get enough time to practice in these areas, we are also able to learn and try new techniques to find what we are most comfortable with. The variety of injuries that we are able to observe within a week is much more than what I was expecting when I first started my rotation. The variability of injuries we get in IPC is something other athletic training students may not have the opportunity to observe. The mixture of upper and lower body injuries helps prepare me not only for future rotations, but also something I will be able to reference in the future of my career.
IPC may not have varsity sports-related injuries and care, but helping the general population has a lot of perks. IPC is also a great learning environment with an incredibly positive atmosphere that makes each day enjoyable to report to for our observation hours.”
Sophomore Athletic Training Student, Annie Molek, practices her ankle taping skills.
UNL Campus Recreation’s Injury Prevention and Care Center is staffed with two certified athletic trainers, 23 student staff trained as first responders and athletic training observational students. IPC is open all hours of the Campus Recreation Center during the school year with the exception of some holiday and summer adjusted hours. IPC is FREE to all students, campus recreation members and patrons who have paid for a guest entry pass.
- injury evaluation and professional referral
- heat and ice modalities
- education services
If you have a question about an injury, please stop by and ask one of our staff members.
*We will tape one ankle for free. After that, we ask that you provide your own tape that can be purchased at the Member Services Desk. We do not provide tape to cover piercings for participation in activities or for shin guards.
If you are interested in working in IPC, we offer an Athletic Training Basics class this January taught by one of our certified athletic trainers.
This ten-week course covers information needed to work in IPC, including first aid, measuring blood pressure, taping and wrapping, stretching, basic injury evaluation and much more. The course is $30 for UNL students and CREC members. After the completing the requirements involved with the class, you are eligible to sit for an interview for a position for the upcoming year. Find more information on sign up for the class here and search for athletic training.