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WVU Sports Medicine partnership offers placements for undergraduates

A new internship program, hosted by WVU Sports Medicine, continues a long history of collaboration between CPASS and WVU Athletics. In the arrangement, Health and Well-being students serve as sports medicine student managers who observe the ‘day in the life’ of master’s level students. The arrangement supports the HWB undergrads as they look to the future and explore career options.

Sophomore Zelda Antantis says the internship allows her to implement instructional concepts from her HWB courses. “I am grateful that I have the chance to get an inside look at our football team and observe how athletic trainers help players reach their full potential,” Antantis, from Pittsburgh, Pa., said. “This program has solidified my career choice, while helping me to view anatomy and physiology in real-life situations. I aspire to be an athletic trainer with football in the future. I had a great crew to look up to and learn from at WVU Football.”

Erin Jordan, teaching assistant professor and program coordinator, explains that HWB students are required to earn experiential learning hours to fulfill their degree requirements. “This partnership between the Health and Well-being program and WVU Sports Medicine benefits our students. They get to see how healthcare is being delivered in a fast-paced clinical environment by a team of healthcare professionals,” she said. “It is a way for students to earn those critical hands-on learning hours and start to build connections that will benefit their growth as a professional.”

Zach Foster, associate director of sports medicine, calls the pilot program “a tremendous success.” The current students, a collection of undergraduate athletic training, masters athletic training and physical therapy students, along with the graduate assistant athletic trainer, work collectively as a team to fulfill required daily assignments and tasks.

“The sports med student managers get to see the ‘day in the life’ of master’s level students as they look to the future and figure out what field they want to be in,” Foster said. “The beauty of the program is creating a melting pot of various types of students who all have varying interests for graduate school and then having everyone work together.”

The goal, says Foster, is to have every student who serves as an intern get into graduate school at the place of their choosing. “We don’t push athletic training on the group. We want to show them how great this profession can be,” he said. “At the same time, we educate them that other options are available such as PT, OT, med school, med sales, sports nutrition and sports psychology.”

Foster says that the sports medicine student managers have worked hard and excelled. “They have come into a high-tempo clinical environment and thrived. I don’t know if I could quantify what my projections were when we had our initial meeting at the beginning of the semester, but they have exceeded my highest expectations with their work ethic and drive to help and be a part of the WVU Football sports medicine team,” he said.

The WVU Football sports medicine staff examined developing the new model due to a change in the program structure of athletic training education programs. Traditionally, athletic training programs have been an undergraduate degree, however, Foster explains that they are transitioning to a master’s level. “Because of this change we knew we would need to find additional student workers to help fill the gaps. We investigated several options,” he said. “Partnering with the CPASS Health and Well-being program was always our top option. CPASS and WVU Athletics have had a tradition of working together; it was nice that a natural partnership was available.”

Jordan says that developing the collaboration between the HWB program and WVU Sports Medicine adds up. “Due to changes in accreditation standards, anyone who wants to pursue a career as an athletic trainer must graduate from a CAATE accredited master's degree program to be eligible to take the Board of Certification, Inc. exam,” she said. “As a result, athletic training programs are going to have smaller cohorts, which means fewer athletic training students to helps with tasks such as field set up and hydration.”

Foster says that football is ‘a numbers game’ related to staff and student help. “We knew that expanding out student internship offerings would help us in the short and long term as we develop a consistent model to recruit students, while simultaneously increasing retention of students who can help strengthen our sports medicine model,” Foster said. “Our goal is to have students enter our program as a freshman or sophomore and stay with us for the remainder of time in their undergrad degree.”

Participating HWB students include Meghan Breeden, Morgan Coffey, Zelda Antantis, Anna-elaine Tiller, Lauren Adderley, Scott Samples, Valerie Brunner, Sydney Zimmerman, Emily Dameron, Harlee Johnson and Travis Blake.

Additional students include sport and exercise psychology majors Nathan Moss, Kaitlyn Weaver and Emma Schaefer, sport management major Jaden Johnson and nursing major Alyssa Stout.

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