Now offering digital badges in athletic training
Earning your DAT, MS-AT, or AT graduate certificates now come with digital badges. Badges are visual symbols of knowledge and skills that confirm your competency and completion of a post-graduate course, graduate certificate, or post-professional degee. Badges are a digital benefit that make it easier to showcase your advanced training and competency for employment opportunities.
A badge is awarded after completing each post-graduate course. Multiple courses cumulate in a micro-credential, which can be earned in clinical decision-making, rehabilitation, orthopaedics, leadership and education, or sports neurology and concussion. And, multiple micro-credentials culminate in a degree, either a Doctor of Athletic Training or a Master of Science in Athletic Training. DAT students also earn micro-credentials in applied research and innovation.
Clinical Decision-Making is the first micro-credential (which is a certificate/track equivalence) that can be earned by passing the four post-graduate courses that make up the clinical decision-making foundation. A digital badge will be issued for each individual post-graduate course, as well as a digital badge for Clinical Decision-Making micro-credential. Next, the University plans to launch the sports neurology and concussion badges and micro-credential, followed by rehabilitation!
DAT and MS-AT alumni and current students will also be awarded digital badges.
Athletic trainers working in the digital age now have a better way to validate their education, skills, achievements, advanced training, and competencies with digital badges from ATSU. Digital badges can also be shared on social media!
Asynchronous learning format
One post-graduate course typically requires 8-10 hours per week of coursework and can be completed in 10-week blocks. Micro-credentials (graduate certificates) can be earned in as little as a year. Students will be enrolled in the same courses as the DAT and MS-AT students.
In each micro-credential, one post-graduate course if offered per block.
Frequently asked questions
What is a digital badge?
Digital badges are a visual symbol of accomplishment. They’re awarded for achieving courses.
Recipients can combine badges from different sources into common collections, and when shared, these badges may be verified by any compatible system to ensure that they are trustworthy representations of their earner's experiences.
How do digital badges work?
After completing a course, you receive a digital badge, multiple badges in a given area builds a pathway to a “micro-credential.” Then, multiple micro-credentials build into a degree. Your personal ecosystem will show your personal progress through the pathways.
Badges are a visual accumulation of knowledge and skills learned during post-graduate courses. Digital badges contain metadata about achievements earned during courses, they showcase an individual’s competency and education as a verifiable achievement record.
AT badges have no expiration date. If achievement goals or curriculum of a course changes, badges may change.
How many digital AT badges are there?
Upon graduation from ATSU's program, a DAT student will have earned a total of 28 digital badges, 5 of which will be at the micro-credential level. A MS-AT student will have earned a total of 13 digital badges, 2 of which will be at the micro-credential level. Those who pursue a graduate certificate for a micro-credential will earn a total of 5 digital badges.
Why should I get a digital badge?
Sharing your badges can be a great way to be recognized for an achievement or to connect with other people interested in similar badging topics.
Digital badges enable you to collect and share digital credentials that validate your skills and accomplishments. Within your digital badge pathway/backpack, you can explore a network of connected learning experiences offered by organizations you trust.
Badges are meant to be shared for you to send signals of success to the networks that matter to you, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
The digital backpack enables learners to combine and connect badges from multiple sources into a meaningful learner pathways. Users can track their own progress and look ahead to plan the next steps in their learning journey.
How do I use a digital badge?
Badges are more than just an image and meant to be used in many ways. Digital badges are embedded with metadata that informs viewers of the context in which they were earned, verifying not only your education, but your competencies as well.
You can share your digital badges:
- Directly from your badge pathway backpack via a URL
- To linked social media
- As a badge for an email signature or website
- Or as a card for a resume
How do I apply?
Badge/micro-credentials students go through the same application process as DAT students. You can apply here.
To enroll in a post-graduate course, apply as a non-degree seeking student and select the track or course. If you would like to take multiple courses, you will need to re-apply for the next course.
How much is tuition for a badge?
$600 per credit plus the $32 technology fee at the individual course level / non-degree. Each course is 3 credits.
AT featured faculty
Barton Anderson, DHSc, AT, ATC is a Tenured Professor and Clinical Education Coordinator in the ATSU Athletic Training programs. As the residential program Clinical Education Coordinator, Dr. Anderson oversees all aspects of clinical education, including establishing and maintaining graduate assistantships, coordinating affiliated clinical sites and preceptors, and providing clinical mentoring to AT program students.
Naturally gravitating toward the field of sports medicine, the ability to be a healthcare provider who primarily works with active individuals got Dr. Anderson interested in athletic training. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training from Missouri State University, his Master of Science in Sports Healthcare from A.T. Still University, and his Doctor of Health Science degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Prior to coming to ATSU, Dr. Anderson worked full-time clinically for 10 years as an athletic trainer in the collegiate, high school, and clinical settings. During his first job out of his professional program, he realized he didn’t know nearly as much as he needed to be a successful provider, so he decided to pursue a post-professional master’s in athletic training and attended ATSU’s residential post-professional master’s program from 2001 to 2003.
“I really look at my time as a student in the post-professional program at ATSU as forming my philosophy for healthcare, my approach to patients, and just my overall ability as an athletic trainer. I see the post-professional master’s program as providing the base framework and foundation for me to continue to grow and develop as an AT throughout my career.” – Dr. Anderson
As an alumnus of the program he’s now a faculty for, he jokes that ATSU has always provided exactly what he needed at each point in his career.
“ATSU gave me opportunity. It seems as I grow and develop as a faculty member and progress in my career, I adapt and change at the same time as the University. I love the fact that I can give back to the program and contribute to the education of our students and hopefully move the profession forward.” – Dr. Anderson
With extensive experience and training in therapeutic exercise prescription, fundamental movement patterns, and manual therapy techniques, he currently practices part-time at Park University in Gilbert, AZ, where he specializes in post-surgical rehabilitations.
As a primary faculty member at ATSU since 2008, his primarily teaching responsibilities are clinically oriented classes, teaching around 12 classes across the blocks, and was responsible for the initial development of many of the clinically oriented course curricula. He is an instructor for the Orthopaedic Track courses in the online Doctor of Athletic Training program and teaches the Advanced Clinical Practice course series in the residential post-professional master’s program. Dr. Anderson also advises master’s thesis projects and doctoral applied research projects in both programs.
Check out courses taught by Dr. Anderson:
- ATRN 6101: Advanced Clinical Practice V: Functional Movement Screening
- ATRN 6201: Advanced Clinical Practice VI: Manual Therapy Techniques
- ATRN 6301: Advanced Clinical Practice VII: Soft Tissue Rehabilitation Techniques
- ATRN 6310: Diagnosis of Orthopaedic and Sport-Related Injuries
- ATRN 6330: Foundations of Tissue Healing
- ATRN 6401: Advanced Clinical Practice VIII: Professional Development
- ATRN 7210: Foundations of Tissue Healing
- ATRN 7410: Orthopaedic Diagnostic Evaluation
- ATRN 8170: Applied Clinical Education and Mentoring (co-instructor)
Currently, Dr. Anderson’s favorite course to teach is the Orthopaedic Diagnostic Evaluation course.
“It's a course where I have the opportunity to cover some advanced concepts and we really focus on students understanding and how to think about the evaluation process. We spend a lot of time helping students become more reflective as clinicians, to be more self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses as clinicians, and understand how to think through a patient case.” – Dr. Anderson
Dr. Anderson's research interests include the assessment and correction of fundamental movement patterns, the development of clinical reasoning skills and advanced clinical practice, and post-professional clinical education.
Dr. Anderson is the Chair of the CAATE Standards Committee, and a member of the CAATE Review Committee, the NATA Post-Professional Education Committee, and is the AT-PBRN EMR manager. Dr. Anderson holds a Level 1 Functional Movement Screen™ certification and is an accredited Graston Technique™ clinician. He has also been recognized as the Arizona School of Health Sciences Educator of the Year (2016), Distinguished Service of the Year (2019), and Scholar of the Year (2021). He was named a Distinguished Educator by the RMATA in 2019 and received the NATA Service Award in 2018.
AT featured faculty
Kenneth Lam, ScD, ATC, is a professor of clinical research within the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences for the athletic training programs at A.T. Still University (ATSU). In addition to his faculty responsibilities, Dr. Lam serves as the director of the Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network (AT-PBRN) and as the vice chair of the Institutional Review Board at ATSU - Mesa campus.
AT-PBRN is the only practice-based research network in athletic training recognized by HARQ, and offers a network of engaged professionals to improve the quality of care provided by ATs through research sharing, education, and practice-based research. In addition to post-professional education opportunities through the MS-AT or DAT, certified ATs are also welcome to join AT-PBRN to engage with other AT clinicians for life-long learning opportunities.
Dr. Lam received a BS in athletic training, a master of education in human movement, and a doctorate with a focus on movement sciences from Boston University, and is passionate about helping patients recover from an injured state back to play and achieve their goals.
Prior to earning his doctorate, Dr. Lam practiced as a certified athletic trainer at Boston University, Rutgers University - New Brunswick, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Lam then completed a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship within the Center of Clinical Outcomes Studies at ATSU with a focus on patient-oriented outcomes research before becoming a faculty member at ATSU.
“I wanted to come to ATSU because the faculty have an excellent reputation, they’re known as leaders who are advancing our profession. Coming to ATSU was a great way for me to learn from leaders within our profession and gave me to opportunity to change my line of research to focus more on patient and patient outcomes.” – Dr. Lam
In contrast to historical disease-oriented or commission-rated outcomes of AT research trends, Dr. Lam’s focus is on the assessment of patient outcomes, which highlights the wants and needs of the patient. His current line of research seeks to understand the overall impact of sport-related lower extremity injuries on patient-oriented outcomes such as health-related quality of life.
Dr. Lam’s favorite course to teach is health information technology. “My focus is to help our students become data literate. I enjoy watching students gain understanding of the importance of data and demystifying how complicated it can get, we can do very simple things and learn very valuable information about our patient care.” – Dr. Lam
Check out other courses taught by Dr. Lam:
- ATRN 7140: Health Information Technology
- ATRN 8010: Research Methods & Design
- ATRN 8020: Methods of Data Analysis
- ATRN 8100: Practice-Based Research
- ATRN 9013: Implementing and Evaluating the Solution (Course Facilitator)
Dr. Lam will earn his NATA Fellow status in June, leading ATSU to be one of the only universities in the country that now has four faculty members with this distinction. He also serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Athletic Training and Journal of Sport Rehabilitation and is the Chair of the Free Communications Committee of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Trainers’ Association.
AT featured faculty
As Director of Clinical Education, Dr. Clements has focused on providing extracurricular opportunities for students in the online MS-AT and DAT programs to advance their clinical practice. The primary mechanism is via synchronous online opportunities for students to participate in discussions about challenging patient cases, hear from alumni and other leaders in the profession on contemporary issues facing the profession, and other professional development and networking opportunities.
Dr. Clements completed his bachelor’s degree at the State University of New York at Cortland and his master’s degree at East Stroudsburg University. He recently completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences from Seton Hall University. Tributing teachers who served as preceptors as influential mentors, Dr. Clements knew during his undergraduate program that he wanted to teach. While in grad school, he experienced a mixture of practicing clinically and teaching in traditional classroom settings and as a preceptor in clinical experiences.
Prior to ATSU, Dr. Clements served as the Faculty Director of Clinical Education in Boston University’s College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and as a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education for Boston University’s programs in athletic training. Dr. Clements also previously worked as an assistant athletic trainer at Seton Hall University, head athletic trainer at both Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ and Lasell College in Newton, MA, and served as a preceptor for students in the athletic training programs at Seton Hall University, Lasell College, and Boston University.
“I have known the faculty at ATSU for a long time, having the opportunity to work with them was really appealing to me. They’re really an outstanding group of faculty members who seek to push the profession of athletic training forward. They’re quite progressive, they’re leaders.”
Prior to joining the ATSU faculty full-time in July, Dr. Clements developed the content for and taught the Applied Clinical Education and Mentoring course as an adjunct faculty. As a new faculty member, Dr. Clements has also been co-teaching the Clinical Decision-Making foundational courses for the DAT program.
“Developing the content for the projects and assignments was really great. I’ve enjoyed the interactions with students as they learn more about how to use different strategies to be effective in that role as a mentor.”
Check out courses taught by Dr. Clements:
- ATRN8170: Applied Clinical Education and Mentoring
- ATRN8130: Health Policy and Systems of Delivery
- ATRN 7110: Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (co-instructor)
- ATRN 7120: Evidence-Based Practice (co-instructor)
- ATRN 7130: Patient-Oriented Outcomes (co-instructor)
- ATRN 7140: Health Information Technology (co-instructor)
Dr. Clements is a founding member of the Association for Athletic Training Research Network. His scholarly activity has focused on the reliability and validity of real-time assessment of lower extremity movement patterns, interprofessional education and simulation, and immersive clinical experiences in athletic training clinical education.
“If their goal is to lead change, either as a clinician, educator, administrator, or researcher, the curriculum at ATSU is extremely well built to be able to foster exactly those abilities and to lead change.”
AuD featured instructor
Melanie Gibson, MA, is the instructional designer and program manager for the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Department at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS). Working with the department for almost 20 years, Mrs. Gibson worked her way up from answering initial inquiries from prospective students to working with adjunct faculty to help build and develop their courses. She now serves in a leadership role in developing creative strategies to teach faculty and students to use the University’s online learning management systems and chat platform as well as implementing best practices for teaching and learning in the online environment.
“When I first started working for the University, it was just a job to help me support my family. I did not see myself being where I am now. However, I grew to love working with the faculty, adjunct faculty, and students in the department. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue my master’s degree in an area that would provide me with the skills to make our online courses compelling and enhance our students learning experience."
Mrs. Gibson received her bachelor’s degree in public administration in 2017 and her master’s degree in teaching and learning with technology in 2018 from Ashford University. During her time as a student at Ashford University, she designed content for adjunct instructors and content experts to improve how content is delivered in an online environment. She obtained knowledge of learning styles, best practices in online education, instructional design, using technology tools to support various learning styles, and strategies for increasing student engagement and retention of content.
“My goal is to make sure our courses are incorporating various learning styles. I like our instructors to use multiple methods of learning activities, such as discussion boards, mini-lectures, readings, or group projects.”
From developing to teaching to learning, she has experience working with multiple learning management systems, including Blackboard and Canvas. As a student, teacher, and developer, Mrs. Gibson has a unique insight into what is required to build captivating and engaging courses. She is a lifelong learner and continually researches and learns about other technologies to enhance teaching and learning.
As the program manager, Mrs. Gibson co-designed the orientation/training course for the content experts and course facilitators for the online Post-Professional Doctor of Audiology program and the template for all courses in the post-professional program. Working with faculty to create and update their online classes, Mrs. Gibson ensures courses are uniform, organized, and student friendly.
“In the training course for our instructors, I focus on the design elements that are really needed to foster student learning and collaboration within the class to make sure students feel they can communicate in various ways with their instructors and classmates.”
Additionally, Mrs. Gibson co-instructs AUDP 7000 Ethics, Leadership and Professionalism, the very first class students take in the post-professional program. In this course, she teaches students how to use the learning management system and has them identify their learning styles. She then offers strategies for learning when information isn’t presented in specific learning styles to empower students to be the most successful they can be.Explore all our post-professional AuD courses >>
DMSc featured faculty
Albert (Bert) Simon, DHSc, MEd, PA, is a professor and the associate director of the Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) program. A faculty member at A.T. Still University (ATSU) since 2005, he’s held a variety of roles; he’s the former chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) and founding vice dean at ATSU’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA), where he was also chief operating officer for ATSU-SOMA. He was an integral part of the leadership team that developed the most innovative medical school in the U.S. from 2007-2012.
As a PA faculty member since 1979 and PA Program Director since 1982, Dr. Simon has served as chair of physician assistant studies departments at three universities: Saint Francis University, Baylor College of Medicine, and most recently ATSU. His clinical practice experience includes internal medicine and occupational medicine.
“It is really interesting and exciting for me to work in the DMSc program. Students are by and large all colleagues; they have a lot of experience and interesting perspectives they bring to the courses. We try to make our courses very engaging, so there’s a lot of discussion. I couldn’t think of a better way to finalize my career.” – Dr. Simon
Being politically active in the physician assistant profession, he has served in a number of national leadership positions including president and vice president of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP). During his APAP presidency, he founded the Leadership-Training Institute as a vehicle to provide needed education to individuals entering into PA education. And, with the help of colleagues and the department, Dr. Simon was an integral part in developing the proposal for the DMSc program.
Always interested in leadership, it’s no surprise Dr. Simon’s favorite course to teach is Organizational Leadership Management & Behavior.
Check out all courses taught by Dr. Simon:
- Organizational Leadership Management & Behavior
- Community Assessment & Health Promotion
- Clinical Practicum 1, 2, 3, and 4
“That leadership role was something that I have always found to be engaging and exciting, and a way I could affect positive change. I’ve been involved in mentoring new PA program directors for years. That was a big interest of mine during faculty development.” – Dr. Simon
He has also served as an educational consultant to over 25 physician assistant programs across the U.S. He served as an author of the Annual Report on Physician Assistant Educational Programs in the U.S. and the co-editor of Appleton and Lange’s Q and A for the Physician Assistant, one of the best-selling board review books for physician assistants in the nation.
His advice for PAs looking to enhance their education is to really consider what they want to do with their education and what goals they want to achieve.
“Students have a much wider selection of opportunities to advance their education toward a doctoral degree. They have options within the curriculum for the direction they want to take their education. I think it offers a lot of choices for people to develop their skill set however they want.” – Dr. Simon
With three specialty tracks in clinical, leadership, and education, students have options to customize the DMSc to their interests and career aspirations. The DMSc can be completed while working full-time in two or three years.
DMSc featured faculty
Randy Danielsen, PhD, PA-C Emeritus, DFAAPA, has been with A.T. Still University for over two decades in various roles: PA academic coordinator (1995-1997), chair of physician assistant studies (1997-2004), dean of the Arizona School of Health Sciences (2004-2010, 2012-2018) and recently stepped down as dean to take on a new role with the Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) program, of which he is now the director and a professor. He is also the director for the Center for the Future of the Health Professions.
Since graduating from the University of Utah physician assistant program in 1974, Dr. Danielsen has distinguished himself as a clinician, PA educator, author, and editor. He received his BS in Health Science (cum laude) from the University of Utah in 1978, his master’s in PA studies (MPAS) from the University of Nebraska with an emphasis in internal medicine in 1997, and his PhD from the Union Institute & University in 2003 with an emphasis in medical education. Working in primary care, emergency medicine, and occupational medicine clinical care for 25 years, Dr. Danielsen then entered education in 1995 when he helped debut the residential PA program at ATSU.
“The faculty and the administration really care about what you’re doing and the programs at the school. The second thing that’s kept me here is seeing what our alumni do. It just blows me away what a good job they’re doing and making a difference in the world.” – Dr. Danielsen
Dr. Danielsen has served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and as a board member and chairman for National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Earlier in his career, he served as president of the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants (UAPA), the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants (ASAPA), and as chair of the Arizona Regulatory Board for PAs.
He also served as PA editor-in-chief for Clinician Reviews. Dr. Danielsen has published over nineteen peer-reviewed articles, twenty journal editorials, three book chapters, and his first co-authored book, entitled The Preceptor’s Handbook for Supervising Physician Assistants, published by Jones & Bartlett Learning. He is also a Senior Consultant with the Academy for Academic Leadership and a proud member of Rotary International.
Teaching at ATSU for over a decade, his favorite course to teach in the DMSc program is medical writing.
“I get an opportunity to teach PAs how to write for a professional journal and they do it. It’s really fun to see people blossom in professional writing. Now that the profession has proved itself, we really need PAs doing research on the profession and writing about cases they’ve seen, not only for our PA colleagues, but our students too.” – Dr. Danielsen
Check out courses taught by Dr. Danielsen:
- Medical Writing
- Quality Improvement in Healthcare
- Physician Assistants in Healthcare Policy
Retired after 28 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and Army National Guard with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Danielsen is also a former president of the AAPA Veterans Caucus and was honored with the Caucus’ Civilian PA of the Year Award in 2003. Dr. Danielsen was named Outstanding PA of the Year by the AAPA in 1993 and by ASAPA in 2011. In 2012 he was honored by the University of Utah, School of Medicine, Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, Division of Physician Assistant Studies with the “Patron of the Profession” award for “unwavering dedication and service to the Physician Assistant Profession.” In May 2015 he received the Eugene A. Stead Award of Achievement by the AAPA. This is the Academy’s most prestigious award recognizing an individual for lifetime achievement that has had a broad and significant impact on the profession.
“My advice to PAs currently practicing who want to move upward is to decide what they really want to accomplish and to find their niche in education, leadership, or clinical practice.” – Dr. Danielsen
AuD featured faculty
Andrea Ruotolo, AuD, is an associate professor and program director of the Post-Professional Doctor of Audiology program at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS). Dr. Ruotolo received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Indiana University and her doctor of audiology degree from ATSU-ASHS.
“When I went online to get my AuD, I really saw that it rounded out my experience. I loved being an online student at that time, even with all the challenges of juggling work and a family. The faculty and Dr. Parent-Buck were incredibly supportive.” – Dr. Ruotolo
An audiologist for 34 years, Dr. Ruotolo has provided academic and clinical instruction at Portland State University and ATSU, where she has been recognized for teaching excellence. She has an extensive background in adult and pediatric assessment, amplification, and aural rehabilitation. Her professional experience includes hospital and medical settings, school settings, and private non-profit facilities. She has participated as an off-campus preceptor supporting local programs throughout her career and has frequently in-serviced nurses, physicians, and support staff on audiology-related issues. She served as a board member and Educational Committee chair for the Oregon Academy of Audiology.
As the director of the Post-Professional Doctor of Audiology program, her role is focused on curriculum development and implementations, hiring, recruiting, and mentoring. She continues to teach her favorite course, Counseling, Aural Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices.
“I feel very passionate about counseling; how are we listening to our patients? Until we get to that underlying emotional message, we can’t move them forward in the testing, diagnosis, and rehabilitation process. The course engages our post-professional students in learning about those counseling skilling, and how they can apply those skills to create aural rehab groups in the clinical environment they’re in, whether that’s private practice, an ENT setting, hospitals, VA, etc.” – Dr. Ruotolo
Dr. Ruotolo has also taught in the residential AuD program, where she presented courses on hearing science, amplification, pediatric audiology, vestibular disorders, educational audiology, professional issues, adult amplification, adult aural rehabilitation, and embryology and genetic conditions.
Check out the course taught by Dr. Ruotolo:
- AUDP 8220 Counseling, Aural Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices
At the core design of the post-professional program is the connection with global colleagues. In every course, students are interacting with each other across the globe. With 29 global adjunct faculty and approximately 14 additional guest contributors sharing their expertise, information in the post-professional program is explored through a global perspective. This program truly looks at the temperature of where the audiology profession is going from a global perspective.
“Post-professionals may be a bit hesitant as they are considering the balancing act between work and family and school. My advice is if you’re considering the AuD, just make the leap. You will see the benefits across the board!” – Dr. Ruotolo
By going the extra mile in their education to increase their skills, the post-professional AuD graduates are opening doors in their careers across the globe. Those selecting the post-professional AuD program want to be leaders in the profession, esteemed academic faculty, more marketable for administrative and clinical positions, and to broaden their reach in their communities.
AT featured faculty
Alison Valier, PhD, ATC, FNATA, serves as a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences and assistant director in the Department of Research Support through the Division of Research, Grants, & Scholarly Innovations at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS).
“I came to ATSU for the opportunity to work with great people and be involved with something valuable and important to the profession. I’ve stayed for a long time because I love the work and what the school and program are all about, and the collective contributions that we make to the profession.” – Dr. Valier
Dr. Valier received her bachelor of arts in psychology from Whitman College in Washington. Initially interested in athletic training when she saw an AT on the job, she didn’t have any initial guidance on becoming an athletic trainer, but found herself engaged with the athletics department and the head athletic trainer at Whitman College. That’s when she found her passion for the profession.
She then received her masters and doctorate in exercise science from the University of Toledo, where she majored in applied physiology and completed a minor in human anatomy. Dr. Valier completed a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Clinical Outcomes Research, awarded to her by the NATA Research and Education Foundation.
Finding a fulfilling role as the athletic trainer for a few local high schools while completing her education, she then had a wonderful opportunity to come to ATSU as faculty, which changed the trajectory of her professional career.
“I got to see firsthand the value of post-professional athletic training education. That was eye-opening to me, how valuable and important it was. I was in this interesting spot where I got to be a part of delivering that curriculum and teaching students, but then, I hadn’t experienced a program like that myself. In some ways I was a little envious just because it really offered something I wished I had as a student in some of my learning.” – Dr. Valier
Dr. Valier’s teaching emphasizes the assessment of clinical outcomes and evaluating the end result of healthcare services, sports injury epidemiology, and quality improvement. She instructs students in the post-professional Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT) program, Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT) program, and clinical decision-making graduate certificate.
Check out courses taught by Dr. Valier:
- ATRN 7110: Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
- ATRN 7130: Patient-Oriented Outcomes
“I love my interactions with students, I love getting them excited. I like sharing new ideas and things they might be able to use practically in their practice. That’s always been fun and rewarding.” – Dr. Valier
Get immersed in Dr. Valier's research
Her primary research area of interest is clinical outcomes assessment, quality improvement, and sports injury epidemiology. At the centerpiece of her research is the patient. Dr. Valier studies the impact of sport-related injury on the HRQOL of high school and college athletes and the development of patient-reported outcomes instruments that are used to facilitate patient-centered care and evaluate patient outcomes. Further, she is interested in better understanding risks and rates of injury through epidemiology research as well as optimizing athletic training systems of care through quality improvement research.
With an interest in better understanding the outcomes of the care athletic trainers deliver to their patients, she strives to help students and clinicians reflect and evaluate their systems of delivery to find ways to make improvements or more efficient outcomes.
Dr. Valier has served in a variety of service roles in the profession. More recently she has served as a member of the NATA Pronouncements Committee and the Foundation Research Committee. She also serves as the co-chair of the Arizona Athletic Trainers’ Association Governmental Affairs Committee. In 2015, she was accepted as a Fellow of the NATA.
“There’s a lot of great benefit to taking a deeper study of things you’re passionate about. A program like the DAT allows you to do that. There are always things you can learn more about and things you can do to advance yourself and ultimately help advance or elevate the profession as well. I think that’s the value of education.” – Dr. Valier
AT featured faculty
Sue Falsone PT, DPT, MS, SCS, ATC, CSCS*D, COMT, RYT is an associate professor at A.T. Still University, who teaches across the spectrum of online post-professional AT offerings, which include Doctor of Athletic Training degree and Master of Science degree programs as well as individual courses leading to specialized graduate certificates and digital badges in Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. She also serves as a clinician scientist within the school’s Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network. Working as an accomplished physical therapist, athletic trainer, business owner, and educator, Dr. Falsone has experienced an eventful career spanning 25 years.
Initially earning a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, Dr. Falsone was working as a PT when she decided to go back to school to become an athletic trainer, finding the sports medicine aspect interesting and believing it would complement her experience in PT. Physical therapy offered Dr. Falsone a post-injury clinical care perspective, while athletic training filled in the gap from the initial injury to the clinic. Wanting to span it all, from preinjury to postop to return to play, she also became a strength coach to learn the performance side.
“For me, it’s always been about how do I bridge this gap from non-injured being with the team and helping someone through an injury to get back to performance and field and be able to blend the AT, PT, and strength conditioning. That’s always been my passion and I took a long route to get there, but once I did, it was great.”
An alumna of Daemen College, Dr. Falsone graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in human movement science. Dr. Falsone gave graduation speech last spring at Daemen College, where she was conferred with an honorary doctorate, the state of New York bestowed a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
One of Dr. Falsone’s many accomplishments includes being the first female head athletic trainer in any of the four major American professional sports leagues, when she was named the head athletic trainer for the LA Dodgers in 2012. She also served as the head of athletic training and sport performance for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
“It’s been a huge blessing in my life to have a small role in young women being able to see that vision for themselves, that they’re certainly capable in that position and have a seat at the table. I didn’t realize the impact of it at the time, it’s been almost 10 years and it’s still not the norm to have a woman in that position.”
Dr. Falsone is known internationally for her expertise in sport rehabilitation and performance enhancement and bridging between AT, PT, and return to sport.
Check out courses taught by Dr. Falsone:
- ATRN 7230: Assessment of Movement Dysfunction
- ATRN 7240: Corrective Techniques for Movement Dysfunction
- ATRN 7250: Rehabilitation Considerations for Sport Performance
- ATRN7310: Foundations of Sport Neurology
- ATRN7440: Orthopaedic Surgical Considerations
In addition to teaching at ATSU, she treats patients and is the owner and founder of Structure and Function Education, an educational company working to bring the concepts, philosophies and techniques of dry needling to the allied healthcare professional.
“My biggest advice is to take the plunge, take that first step. People were like you’re already a physical therapist, you’re crazy to quit your job and go back to school to become an athletic trainer. But I knew that knowledge was going to elevate my life and it did. It changed the course of my life. It can be a risk and be scary, but when it’s your passion, you have to have some faith in yourself that you’re going to take the knowledge you learned and apply it in a way that is going to alter your life.”
AT featured faculty
Dr. Tamara McLeod is the Athletic Training program director, professor of Athletic Training, and the John P. Wood, DO, endowed chair for Sports Medicine at A.T. Still University's Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, Arizona. She is also a research professor in the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona at ATSU.
Involved in sports from a young age and interested in science and medicine, Dr. McLeod completed her doctor of philosophy degree in education with an emphasis in sports medicine from the University of Virginia. Mixing her love of being an athlete with a medical approach, her interest was piqued in the ability to be around athletes and physically active individuals and help them achieve their goals to return them from injury and illness.
“The faculty within the AT department are amazing at what they do. We not only mesh in how we contrast each other in some ways, or meld our teaching styles and content areas, but we like to collaborate with each other, we like to work with each other on research projects.”
Dr. McLeod is the founding director of the Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network. Her research has focused on the pediatric athlete with respect to sport-related concussion. Her current work is investigating the short- and long-term effects of pediatric sports concussion as well as recovery following concussion on traditional concussion assessments, academics, and health-related quality of life.
“There’s incredible faculty buy-in for who we are and what we do and how we want to teach the next generation of athletic training leaders. The people and the support to allow me to flourish as a researcher and as a teacher are really what’s kept me here for so long.”
Dr. McLeod is also involved with pediatric sports injury education and prevention through the Positive Play Project in conjunction with Mesa Parks and Recreation.
“Not only was [concussion-related pediatric and adolescent research] lacking in research literature, but I think collaborations with high schools were lacking and being able to provide services in some way to high schools that would ultimately result in research data down the road was important to me personally and in advancing the athletic training profession.”
Check out courses taught by Dr. McLeod:
- ATRN7330: Classification & Management TBI in Sport
- ATRN7340: Assessment & Management of Complex Patients with Concussion
- ATRN8140: Leadership and Professionalism in Athletic Training (co-taught with Dr. Winterstein)
- ATRN9004/9014: Completing and Disseminating the Project
Find Dr. McLeod’s research:
Dr. McLeod was a contributing author for both NATA Position Statements on the Management of Sport-Related Concussion, the lead author on the NATA Position Statement on the Prevention of Pediatric Overuse Injuries, and a consultant and contributing author on the Appropriate Medical Coverage for Secondary School-Aged Athletes and Appropriate Medical Care Standards statements.
Dr. McLeod serves on numerous editorial boards, publishes frequently in the athletic training and sports medicine journals, and is a NATA Fellow.
AT course spotlight
ATRN 7440: Orthopaedic Surgical Considerations
Taught as part of the Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT) program, the post-professional Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT) program, and the Graduate Certificate in Orthopaedics, the Orthopaedic Surgical Considerations course is designed to enhance the athletic trainer’s knowledge, understanding, and awareness of special considerations for rehabilitation following common orthopaedic surgeries. With a focus on improving ATs’ ability to provide quality education and counseling to orthopaedic patients, students develop advanced knowledge and skills in post-surgical rehabilitation.
Within the first couple of weeks of the course, basic concepts related to orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine, and general guidelines for rehabilitation considerations for post-surgical patients are presented. This sets the framework for the general process of understanding surgery and how ATs manage post-surgical patients.
“This course brought to life the intricacies of orthopaedic surgery and the rehabilitation considerations that follow. We got to learn collectively about common major orthopaedic surgeries. This course has helped me be able to better describe what a patient may be going to experience. It has also allowed me to engage in better rehabilitation understanding.” – DAT student, Caitlyn T., MS, LAT, ATC
Then curriculum then focuses on 10-12 specific procedures in different body regions that are common in athletic training, from a week on arthroscopic surgery at the hip to ACL reconstruction. Then, discussion covers how to guide the progression of post-surgical rehabilitation based on evidence, inclusive of tissue response to surgery, post-surgical rehabilitation guidelines and timelines, and surgical outcomes.
“While the final project was a lot of work, it was very rewarding to become intimately familiar with a surgical procedure and rehabilitation process that I was interested in. Otherwise, the discussion board assignments were all equally valuable.” – DAT student, Kim D., MS, LAT, ATC
Focusing on what ATs need to know about orthopaedic surgery, the goal of this course is to ensure they can provide quality care for the patient, progress the patient as appropriate, and maintain and protect the surgical procedure as it’s healing. Students will engage in weekly collaborative learning activities to critically appraise the current evidence for post-surgical rehabilitation approaches.
“All of the patient education assignments were my favorite, as they have been something I have formally used in my clinical practice. Patient education material has helped me manage patient expectations and appropriately educate and discuss their options.” – DAT student, Matt S., ATC, MA, CSCS
The course culminates with the development of a comprehensive, evidence-based post-surgical rehabilitation protocol for an orthopaedic surgery of the student’s choice. The biggest benefit of this course is exposure to and increased awareness of a wide variety of common sports medicine and athletic training orthopaedic procedures. The course prepares students to be able to perform surgical rehab after any type of surgery, even if it isn’t a surgery covered in the course.
“Beyond the discussion boards, I really enjoyed having to create a post-operative rehab protocol. That is something I had never done before and had previously relied on pre-existing documents in the literature or from the physician.” – DAT student, Kendall M., MS, ATC, CSCS
The DAT program attracts a variety of ATs from different backgrounds and clinical experiences, and this course is no different. For students who aren’t working in post-surgical rehab on a regular basis, they still benefit from this course by gaining a much deeper understanding of the surgical process and rehab, enabling them to better educate and help their patients navigate the process. And for students who work in post-rehab, this course offers directly applicable knowledge to their practice.
“Throughout the course, I had patients with a UCL reconstruction and another patient with an ACL reconstruction which gave me the ability to immediately implement what I learned and how to properly help them.” – DAT student, Anna F., MS, ATC
The Athletic Training Department at ATSU has the goal of creating courses that provide foundational content to support the student in continuing to develop and grow as a clinician throughout their career. Most students who take this course have little exposure to surgical procedures or post-surgical rehab and have never taken a course focused on different surgical procedures. This course helps expand that area of knowledge from a clinical skills standpoint and from a patient education standpoint.
AT course spotlight
ATRN 8100: Practice-Based Research
Practice-based research represents the last step of the transnational research continuum and is vital to the translation of evidence into routine clinical practice. Taught in the Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT) program, Practice-Based Research is one of the last classes students take before graduating with their doctorate. The course allows students to reflect on previous curriculum and see how they can apply learned concepts in their clinical practice to improve their understanding of and ability to conduct practice-based research.
"Interestingly, the course in its entirety was my favorite. After the course, our emergency department implemented a number of the course items to initiate research in the department.” – DAT graduate, David H., DO, DAT, ATC
As one of the few athletic training programs that offer a specific course for practice-based research, many topics discussed typically aren’t found in athletic training curricula, such as the clinician-scientist model, researcher-clinician partnerships, common study designs and statistical approaches for point-of-care research.
"I learned a more progressive way to conduct research at the point of care and to answer clinical questions, which I found beneficial. I also learned how the AT-PBRN can be utilized by clinicians for integrated use of the EMR system to promote research clinicians in the profession of athletic training.” – DAT student, Jerry S., MS, ATC, LAT
The first half of the course is heavily structured with readings and discussion boards, while the second half of the course is dedicated to students designing a point-of-care research project. While implementing the project isn’t mandatory, it enables students to think about what they can do at the point of care in terms of research and how they can design a study to create practice-based evidence and disseminate their findings to patients.
"I enjoyed completing the practice-based research project that encompassed a topic of interest and how it impacted the clinician-patient care. I began incorporating tools based on the research to improve patient care and provide valuable information for the clinician.” – DAT student, Adriana P., MS, LAT, ATC
Practice-Based Research is taught by Kenneth C. Lam, ScD, ATC, who’s an associate professor of clinical research within the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences and serves as the director of the Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network (AT-PBRN), which is the only practice-based research in athletic training recognized by HARQ.
"If we look at practice-based research in athletic training, our faculty are leaders in that regard. We want our students to have the skills and knowledge to make the last step of the translational research framework because it is vital for all care of patients in terms of research evidence.” – Dr. Kenneth Lam, ScD, ATC
AT course spotlight
ATRN 8170: Applied Clinical Education and Mentoring
Taken as part of the Doctor of Athletic Training program or the Leadership and Education Certificate program, the Applied Clinical Education and Mentoring course is intended to improve students’ understanding and application of best practices in clinical education and mentoring in athletic training professional education and residency or fellowship programs.
Course content is structured through assigned readings, guided questions, and online discussions that help foster students’ engagement. The first half of the course focuses on fundamental information, including the history of clinical education in healthcare overall, before narrowing in on clinical education in athletic training. Weekly topics incorporate best practices for bridging the gap between didactic and clinical education, clinical education techniques and models, preceptor mentoring, and student/resident/fellow mentorship models. The class then discusses prevalent stakeholders and their roles.
The second half of the course covers the application of information learned with focused discussion regarding developing assessment activities at the point of care to facilitate practice-based research.
“This course taught me practical ways to mentor future generations of ATs. It also helped me utilize new skills to be a better preceptor to athletic training students. I will be able to implement the knowledge from this course in the coming months as my workplace becomes a clinical site for a local AT education program.” – DAT student, Cody W., MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS
Then, the course delves into contemporary topics in athletic training clinical education, for example, full-time clinical education experiences, facilitating transition to practice, using simulation to improve education opportunities for students, and mentoring. Students also complete a five-week long project that can either be a professional development workshop for preceptors or an assessment plan for clinical education.
“I enjoyed responding to the preceptor questions and seeing how others would respond to the issues. I made it a point to incorporate the standards into my preceptor work (teaching students why).” – DAT student, Kelly F., MS, ATC, CSS
This course is taught by Chad Clements, MS, ATC, associate professor and Director of Clinical Education, and co-taught by associate professor Bart Anderson, DHSc, AT, ATC. Prior to joining the ATSU faculty full-time in July, Chad Clements developed the course content and taught this course as an adjunct faculty. Dr. Anderson serves as the primary clinical faculty member and clinical education coordinator for the post-professional master’s program, overseeing all aspects of the Advanced Clinical Practice program (Clinical Education), including establishing and maintaining graduate assistantships, coordinating affiliated clinical sites and preceptors, and providing clinical mentoring to AT program students.
“Each of our own lived experiences has shaped what we know about being a student in a professional AT program and going through clinical experiences. This class helps reflect on the successes, the challenges or failures of students’ own experiences, and how can they now improve the experiences students have in professional AT programs.” – Professor Chad Clements
Since all students experienced a professional athletic training program, many relate to the post-professional curriculum. Most students in this course have been practicing clinically, possibly in the role of a preceptor, but may not have any experience looking at the standards for accreditation for AT programs and what the specific content is related to in clinical education. For students who are already in faculty roles, this course helps expand on their ability to effectively implement a structured clinical education framework.
DMSc course spotlight
Taken as part of the leadership track in the Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) program, Health Economics is a 10-week course that provides a foundation for understanding how economics influence the shaping of health policy in the U.S and how students can apply that in leadership positions. The course starts with building the foundation of understanding health economics and then develops a detailed examination of both the micro- and macroeconomic views of healthcare, history, current status, and its evolution.
“I didn't have a great economics foundation going into the course. I had never taken any economics courses in undergrad, so this was helpful in giving me some basics and applying it to healthcare.” – DMSc student, David E., MHS, PA-C
Topics compound on each other week to week. After covering the basics of health economics, students delve into the different health inputs (efficiency, effectiveness, values, and behaviors), before looking at the consumption of healthcare. The course then discusses factors that influence the supply and demand of healthcare to provide students with a grasp of the market forces impacting the U.S. healthcare system. Discussions will also include topics such as market equilibrium, scarcity, risk aversion, moral hazard, adverse selection, quality of care, and pay for performance.
“I enjoyed the reading and the weekly interactions, they enabled me to be more cognizant of all aspects of the financial side of medicine.” – DMSc student, Norman D., RN, MS, PA-C
This course is for students looking to take advanced leadership roles within hospital systems, the public health sector, and government. Since economics typically isn’t covered in PA school, students who take this course benefit by gaining advanced knowledge of running a business and balancing the economy of healthcare.
Taught by Dr. Joseph Weber, DHSc, MBA, MPAS, PA-C, this course is very relevant to health topics discussed as a society for the past decade, but really became more important with the outbreak of the pandemic. By providing the framework to process what is happening in real life, students are able to watch the news with new dimensions and understand current events with greater perspective.
“This is really the first time the world has collectively looked at the health impact and seen the economic impact on a global basis. This is a cool time in history to teach this course.” – Professor Dr. Joseph Weber
By gaining a historical perspective, DMSc students and graduates in leadership positions can help make and drive business decisions, policy decisions, and drive public health decisions in changing how practitioners care for the young, elderly, and economically disadvantaged.
“I meet with my Chairs once a week, and this course allowed me to speak more knowledgeably than in the past in regard to business matters. I've always had the voice in these meetings, and brought topics of value to the table, however, now I bring a higher quality of understanding.” – DMSc student, Teresa D., MPAS, PA-C
DMSc course spotlight
Social & Behavioral Determinants of Health
Part of the Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) program, this 10-week course serves as an introduction to the social, cultural, behavioral, and economic factors that influence health status and population health interventions. Often overlooked in traditional entry-level healthcare education, social determinants of healthcare contribute about 80-90% of health outcomes. This course provides a higher level of understanding of the underlying factors of patient care in clinical practice and a higher level of evaluating needs and factors of patients.
“This course gave me the opportunity to do an in-depth study, research, and understand the local social determinants, especially those affecting the health of my patients. The course is very well structured.” – DMSc graduate, Mousumi D., PA-C, DMSc, DPH, MPhil, MBBS
Throughout the course, students discuss all non-clinical factors that affect patients’ health, wellbeing, and quality of life. These include sociocultural conditions and factors of work and life that affect patients’ wellbeing, such as their environments, community, the physical structures in which they interact, economic stability, access to food and other resources, and education. By learning the coursework in their actual environment and community, students gain a better understanding of their specific patients.
“I found the presentation on 'Food Deserts' very informative and eye-opening. This addressed both the urban and rural food deserts, and the special challenges for medical and public health leaders within each geographical and socioeconomic region.” – DMSc graduate, David G., DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
The curriculum includes assigned reading materials, audio/visual resources, and discussion boards where students can apply and summarize their learning of the material, collaborate with colleagues in group learning, and also propose ideas to overcome social determinants of health. Students can incorporate their own sources into the course depending on their interests.
“The course provided clarity and relevance regarding how the Social Determinants of Health relate to primary care and patient outcomes particularly in underserved populations.” – DMSc graduate, James L. Ali, DMSc
Throughout the course, students complete three assignments inclusive of a formal written paper that analyzes and summarizes aspects of health that are unique to their patient population or community and a project where students work to understand health literacy, promote health literacy among their patients, and learn to communicate more effectively with their patients. This culminates in a final assignment where students put together a proposal for an initiative to address a social determinant of health that’s applicable to their patients, students, or community. This includes a presentation where students talk about specific strategies and tools to implement into their own practice or work environment.
“There’s a lot of flexibility within the framework of the courses, you get to know the students, their goals, their interests, and provide them with supplemental resources within the context of the material, so they can really learn information that’s readily applicable to their patients.” – Professor Dr. Sondra DePalma
This class is taught by Dr. Sondra DePalma and Dr. Francis (Frank) Crosby. Dr. DePalma is a national leader of PA practice regulations, policy, and utilization. In addition to being an adjunct professor with ATSU since the DMSc program’s inaugural class, she also works fulltime for the American Academy of PAs as the Director of Regulatory and Professional Practice.
Dr. Crosby received his DHSc in 2013, after decades of working in the PA profession and the United States Air Force. During his military career, he served in multiple leadership roles including deputy chief of medical staff, commander of a medical operations squadron, and as an AF liaison to the Joint Commission. He is also a founding member and past President of PAs for Tomorrow. Dr. Crosby brings a wealth of experience in leadership and health policy to the DMSc program.
"The most common theme students have said is this has been the most eye-opening course they have taken so far. The course makes students think about their own communities. It takes into consideration local cultures, things patients might do before they commute to the clinic, and integrating medicine with the local culture." – Professor Dr. Frank Crosby
This course prepares doctoral students to understand the key factors of healthcare and where they as clinicians, educators, and leaders can potentially make a difference in their future work and careers to improve the health and wellness of individuals, communities, and populations. After completing this course, students have a much better understanding of factors that are affecting patients and are given a framework for integrating social determinants of health into their daily practice. Students who are educators are better able to explain these determinants to their students, improving their teaching plans and education.
AT course spotlight
ATRN 7110: Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
Quality improvement is the consistent, combined effort of many to make changes in healthcare that will improve patient outcomes, system performance, and professional development. Taken as part of the Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT) program, Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT) program, and post-graduate certificate in clinical decision-making, this 10-week course is designed to enhance the athletic trainer’s understanding of quality improvement as it relates to patients’ health, clinical care, and learning.
“This class had me taking a second look at a lot of different protocols that my institution has in place and how to improve upon them, not only that, but it also gave me the tools and the knowledge I needed to know how to properly and effectively go about it.” – DAT student, Mackenzie V., MS, LAT, ATC
Students are introduced to an element of quality improvement each week, building upon previous concepts. Starting with a global overview of the history of quality improvement, students are then introduced to the methodology used for quality improvement, the Model for Improvement, which serves as the theoretical foundation for the course. Curriculum topics include creating and managing interprofessional teams, identifying quality improvement issues, process literacy, data collection for continuous improvement, and implementing system changes.
“It is a more systematic approach rather than just writing ideas down. The step-by-step approach to making change is something that takes time and does not happen overnight. I have learned to incorporate others in the process as well.” – DAT student, Brian B., MEd, LAT, ATC
Students are introduced to tools and strategies to become process literate, which helps clinicians better understand what’s going on within their healthcare system to see where the opportunities are to make it better. During the course, students will also be introduced to common tools used in quality improvement projects, such as process diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, run charts, and plan-do-study-act cycles.
“My favorite week was the week where we discussed working styles and how to build a team. I always see many problems in our field, but never know where to begin to address them and it becomes overwhelming. But Dr. Valier guided us through the steps on how to make change happen. Building a team and outlining each of the roles each member needs to contribute for success was something that I think is the most important.” – DAT student, Jeremy A., MA, ATC
The thread that runs through the entire course is the development of a quality improvement project. Students learn how to identify a problem or a healthcare quality gap and find ways to reduce that gap and make systems function or work better to create a better patient experience. Within the coursework, students identify an area of improvement needed within their healthcare system and create a plan for how they could make that area better. Assignments include readings, multi-media presentations, discussions, and individual and/or group assignments.
“The final project was my favorite part of the course because it put everything together. I was able to utilize the class project in my practice at the time.” – DAT student, Brian B., MEd, LAT, ATC
Some course highlights include a greater understanding of how to form and lead a team, how to take action on things that need quality improvement, and how to practically promote a culture of change.
This class has significant student and faculty interaction and sharing of ideas between students, adding a fun engagement element to the class. This course is taught by Dr. Alison Valier, PhD, ATC, FNATA, who also serves as a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences and is the assistant director in the Department of Research Support through the Division of Research, Grants, & Scholarly Innovations.
“My experience with Dr. Valier was very pleasant and thought-provoking. I was excited to learn more from her. There was so much that I was excited about that I even met with her one on one via Zoom. She was responsive, patient, and very knowledgeable. One of the top professors I've had here at ATSU.” – DAT student, Jeremy A., MA, ATC
AT course spotlight
ATRN 7250: Rehabilitation Considerations for Sport Performance
Rehabilitation Considerations for Sport Performance provides ATs with advanced knowledge on how to bridge the gap from rehabilitation to sport performance. Taught by Sue Falsone PT, DPT, MS, SCS, ATC, CSCS*D, COMT, RYT, and referencing the textbook, Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance, written by Dr. Falsone, the course lays out an organizational system for treating an athlete from rehab back to performance. This course can be taken as part of the Master of Science in Athletic Training program, Doctor of Athletic Training program, and Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation. Notably, it allows for the individuality of the clinician. Dr. Falsone says, “What we do is an art based on science. It allows the clinician to still be an artist, but provides them organization and science to back up what they’re doing each step of the process.”
The course covers neuromuscular considerations such as psychomotor and somatosensory control, in addition to considerations for strength training, time under tension, power development and athletic movement prescription.
“Learned a good amount of advanced rehab techniques as well as proper assessment and progression and I improved rehab knowledge. I loved the videos, projects, and the feedback we were able to give to each other.” – DAT graduate, Amanda H. DAT, ATC, CES, SMTC
Broken into weekly components, material covers identifying the pain generator and discussing the source of someone’s pain, followed by discussion on the cause of someone’s pain. The following sections covers cycle motor control, with in-depth discussion on the brain-body connection. Then the nervous system is covered, including how do to manipulate the nervous system to create an outcome of movement, such as the visual, vestibular, or co-receptive.
“My favorite assignment was creating the movement analysis chart. It made me look deeper into the types of movements each sport does and understand the types of functional movements that need to be incorporated while rehabbing to improve performance.” – DAT student, Americus W. MSAT, LAT, ATC
Then strength and power production are discussed with focus on how to manipulate sets and reps to stimulate a physiological response. Then fundamental movement patterns and understanding patterns to create movement within sport. Lastly, a discussion on the technical aspects of this process, such as how to work with coaches and technical coaches to better understand the game.
“The movement analysis project was my favorite! Essentially, I had to take one skill (I used a basketball layup) and break it down into the essential movements of the skill. This was helpful because it breaks down a play into individual movements that can be trained before training on the skill as a whole. I had a lot of fun on all of the assignments in this course because they were all so immediately applicable!” – DAT graduate, Jesse M. DAT, MS, MEd, LAT, ATC, CSCS
Woven throughout the course is discussion on the different biosocial factors that impacts the individual. Every athlete has a different story, where they are in their career, the rehab process, amount of family support are all things that impact their journey.
“My passion lies with helping athletes from preinjury through postinjury to performance. In the course of 10 weeks, the class takes learners through that process in a very organized way. It really helps the learner fill in the gaps and it highlights areas of strength in the bridging the gap between rehab and performance process, but it also highlights the areas where they need more work or need interprofessional relationships for the betterment of their patient/athlete/human.” – Dr. Sue Falsone, Professor
A lot of information is covered this 10-week course! Through a variety of assignments, including writing or a discussion board, every topic along the way of rehabilitation to performance is covered with allotted time for reflection. Following this course, ATs will be able to develop a comprehensive program for the athlete who is returning to sport post-injury.
“The faculty was a 10/10. Sue and Dr. Hortz are two of the best in the business and their expertise and experiences made the class enjoyable and challenged me to become a better clinician.” – DAT student, Brian B. M.Ed., LAT, ATC
AT course spotlight
ATRN 7340: Assessment and Management of Complex Patients with Concussion
Assessment and Management of Complex Patients with Concussion provides a thorough examination of the treatment of patients with complex medical concerns who suffer a concussion. With specific attention focused on the patient’s past medical history and co-morbid factors, students discover how these may influence the assessment, treatment, and management of head injuries. The course is focused on getting patients active using treatment strategies to assess and manage the concussion to try to get them back to their sport, job, school, even return to military duty in a much more active manner.
“I learned how to evaluate and manage complex concussion cases in ways that immediately helped my clinical practice.” – DAT Student, Maurice I., MS, ATC
As part of the Sport Neurology and Concussion track, students can take this course as a part of Master of Science in Athletic Training program, the Doctor of Athletic Training program, or the Sport Neurology and Concussion certificate program. This course is offered during Spring Block 2, and can be taken from March to May.
Starting off with a broad discussion of the biopsychosocial model of healthcare with respect to concussion and defining the complex patient, this course then focuses on one concussion subtype or clinical profile in one-week intervals. The course discusses an important profile, sleep, managing sleep, and treating sleep issues. This is followed by aerobic exercise and the importance of getting patients active at a sub-symptom threshold level early. Rehabilitation strategies for vision and vestibular deficits are discussed, followed by executive functioning and cognitive therapies. The final weeks of the course address mental health concerns, long-term consequences and medical disqualification, ending with a focus on patient-centered care. The next lecture topic is patient-centered care and how to incorporate that into concussion. A week is also spent on the long-term consequences of concussions and how to make tough decisions, like when to recommend medical disqualification to patients who are either having prolonged recovery or had multiple concussions.
“The information provided each week was relevant and easily transferable to the daily treatments of concussive patients. Each week there were many takeaways which allowed for better overall care of student-athletes. An example would be the week three project, which involved creating a sleep pamphlet. I still have this available to share with our student-athletes.” – DAT Student, Chuck M. MS, ATC
“I loved the public health concern unit. I also felt the project was very useful is combining the course material into a care plan.” – Certificate Graduate, Taeopae W., MS, ATC
Taught by Tamara McLeod, PhD, ATC, FNATA, this course offers up-to-date, evidence-based insight into related areas of complex concussions, such as mental health, public health education, and visual and vestibular rehabilitation. Dr. McLeod states, “I find with this course, every time I teach it, I’m almost restructuring it because the evidence that’s coming out to support some of these treatment modalities changes and so it certainly challenges me as an instructor to stay on top of the literature. You see a lot of lightbulbs go off in the students over the course of the 10 weeks.”
“[After taking this course], we added early active aerobic exercise and visual/vestibular rehabilitation techniques into our concussion protocol, as well as developed a solid return to learn protocol for the district.” – DAT Student, Stephanie T., LAT, ATC