Opportunities are everything. Half-way through USC's sports residency and I've already had so many opportunities to grow in a number of ways.
Just last week I had the opportunity to cover both the practices and game for the NFL players association collegiate bowl. By far this was the most eye-opening and valuable experience. As the only physical therapist on staff, it was a unique opportunity. My experiences were vast and allowed me to learn about how the NFL works. Speaking with sports agents, NFL scouts, NFL coaches, athletic trainers, doctors, neurologists, and NFL personnel was just a small taste of what my experience was like. Taping players and covering the sidelines was also a lot of fun. Fortunate (and unfortunately for the athlete), I had to run on the field during the game to assess a player's injury. What was so unique about this experience was how you had to handle the situation afterwards. Everyone wants to know the injury but you cannot discuss these things at all with anyone, including an athlete's sports agent, unless given written consent and by going through the proper channels.
Mentoring is what I have valued the most up to this point in the residency. Guidance, feedback, and criticism have been vital in my development as a sports physical therapist. New exercises, new manual therapy treatments, new ways to evaluate, and new ways to think have all been part of my mentoring experiences. Learning from the sports medicine doctors at Kerlan Jobe, both in the office, in the surgery room, and during the games has provided me the ability to become comfortable understanding where the doctor's point of view comes from.
On-field/Training Room Experience:
This area has been the second most valued part of the residency for me. I've had quite a few hours on the field by now in a variety of settings: high school football, soccer, basketball; collegiate football, basketball, baseball; Pro beach volleyball; and NFLPA football. With my future on-field/training room experiences to include the Anaheim Angels spring training and another professional team experience, my excitement and experience continues to grow.
On average I spend about 4-6 hours in a collegiate training room evaluating and treating college athletes each week. My time covering practices and games can sometimes be up to 18 hours a week! These are all excellent opportunities to see a variety of different injury presentations and have the ability to critically think.
With USC's sports residency including so many different components, it can be easy to forget the little things. For example, access to USC's libraries, pubmed, after hour labs, alumni shadowing opportunities, and the research labs are just some of the amenities I have taken advantage of at USC. Next week I'll be going to the gross anatomy lab with one of the orthopedic residents just because we want to review again. Lastly, the camaraderie with the other orthopedic and sports residents. Despite all the hard work and sacrifices, all of the residents are very close and enjoy each other's company. We all want to help each other out and have a good time along the way. These are what make a GREAT residency experience.
Having a variety of opportunities is what is so vital in a sports resident's experience. What the resident takes advantage of is his/her prerogative but it certainly has been incredible for me at this point.