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ATSU-ASHS’ DAT Winter Institute shaping future generation of athletic trainers

A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences’ (ATSU-ASHS) Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT) program recently held its annual Winter Institute, where students and faculty came together to share ideas, learn more about the athletic training profession, network, and more as part of a four-day learning retreat in Gilbert, Arizona. 

“It has been incredible,” said attendee Christina Fanning, DAT, ’23, MS, ATC, LAT. “I really like being challenged. Because I’m around 35 to 40 people who think differently than me and have different backgrounds than me, when you ask a question or when we have a conversation, it’s just a new perspective.”

Each day of the institute is focused on a different topic centered around presentations and group discussions. Day one’s theme, for example, was advancing leadership and innovation. On this day, students listened to presentations on negotiating for oneself, getting started with advocacy, and uplifting diverse voices. 

This is the only in-person requirement of the online DAT program, which is designed to be flexible to enable athletic trainers to obtain their doctoral degree while furthering their professional careers. 

Students traveled from around the country to attend this institute, and for many, this was the first time meeting their classmates face-to-face. This led to the sharing of unique perspectives, diversified conversations, and new outlooks for all in attendance. 

“It’s been very engaging. It’s really interesting to hear everyone’s opinions and just think about how we can push the profession forward in the future, and it’s really cool to get to see everyone in person, too,” said Mishaal Amjad, DAT, ’23, MS. 

Throughout the week, students deepened their knowledge of the profession and came away with many of the skills needed to excel as athletic trainers. And for some students, the Winter Institute served as a reminder of their passion for the profession. 

“Honestly, between the pandemic and trying to find my place professionally, there hasn’t been a lot of times that I’ve been super excited about the profession, or just my job in general. The Winter Institute, and even my time in the coursework, there’s these little glimpses of motivation,” said Aaron Herbst, DAT, ’26, MS. “It’s transformative, it’s motivating. It makes me want to do more.”

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