Athletic lab expands with program

Junior Thomas Brossart has studied in the athletic training lab for three years. He has to work with several people on his lab table due to the overcrowding in the classroom. Limited space and time availability do not allow him to receive hands-on experience in his field of study.

NKU’s Department of Kinesiology and Health is expanding the instructional lab by combining two rooms in the Albright Health Center to create more space and help gain more hands-on experience for students majoring in the athletic training program, starting next school year.

The athletic training program is a major within the kinesiology and health department that allows developing students to become certified or licensed to practice as an athletic trainer after graduation.

“It’s crowded, especially when the program is getting bigger,” Brossart said. Athletic trainers can be found in a variety of settings including hospitals, sports camps and high school teams, according to the National Association for Sports and Medicine.

In 2013, the curriculum changed practicum from an hour lab segment into a 12-hour intern course. The program is expecting to enroll more students because of the growth of the field, according to Carol Ryan, interim chair of Kinesiology and Health.

“We are gaining students that love this profession and are willing to learn and become a part [of] it,” said senior Dontaz Smith, who majors in athletic training. “In addition, retention rates will grow and graduation is now offered in both spring and fall, instead of just spring.”

Since the field is in high demand, student numbers have increased in the program and the new instructional lab gives them more space to practice with treatment tables and move around. The new lab is helpful for students to get proper hands-on experience with each other to see what the environment of athletic trainers is like.

The students are responsible for learning how to tape an injured wrist, knee or ankle on an athlete and how to rehab an injured person back into shape. The lab allows real-life injured athletes to come in and sit on treatment tables with the trainers.

Ryan said the current instructional lab was built to hold 10 students, but the new lab will be able to hold up to 20 students. She said the expansion of the program has increased by 50 percent over the last two years including the increase of 30 graduates in the new program alone.

“We have had five to six graduates in the program over the last two years. This spring we have fourteen graduates,” Ryan said. “Next year we are expecting 30-40 graduates with the new program.”

The department has reviewed past graduates from NKU, showing that 65 percent of them are now working in the greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.

Senior Chelsey Switzer, president of the Athletic Training Club, said she won’t have the opportunity to utilize the new lab because she will be graduating as a certified athletic trainer (ATC), but she believes the new lab will be useful to the underclassmen.

“This will be a benefit due to the new equipment that is being purchased for the new lab,”  Switzer said. “We will no longer have to share the athletic training rooms (ATR) with the certified athletic trainers.”

Rachel Vogelpohl, athletic training clinical coordinator, said that students are required to go out to the working community with other athletic trainers to get the experience that is necessary in a student teaching environment and that the lab gives them a better opportunity to prepare for the job.

“We send out our students to different areas,” Vogelpohl said. “We send them to high schools in the greater Cincinnati area and Thomas More College.”

Due to the demand of the athletic trainers, employment will rise between 2010-20, increasing 30 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Switzer said the new lab will help with jobs after students in the program graduate because it will be the same type of setting they all will be working in.

The classes are separated in the current instructional lab. Seniors are together and so are juniors. However, with the new curriculum, students can take classes whenever they want to. This mixing of class levels can be challenging because of skill levels.

“With the new lab, it helps instructors be able to have one section of lab instead of multiple and extra sections with the current lab,” said Lisa Schultz, academic coordinator for the kinesiology and health department. She agreed that it gives students a better learning environment.

The new instructional lab can be viewed on the second floor of the Albright Health Center in rooms 216 and 217. It will be finished by late spring and ready for students in the fall semester.