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LHU student interns at Mansfield University and UPMC Cole

(Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of stories written by Lock Haven University graduate students about their athletic training full-immersion externships prior to graduation this spring.)

In the final semester of the Master of Science in Athletic Training program at Lock Haven University (LHU), each student completes a full-immersion externship experience at a location of their choice. Kasey Creech, of Galeton, chose to return to her hometown area to complete her externship experience at two locations: Mansfield University (MU) under the supervision of LHU alumni, Brian Oakes ’94 and ’14 MS, LAT, ATC and Kayla Wright ’20 MS, LAT, ATC, and at UPMC Cole under the supervision of Melissa O’Brien, LAT, ATC.

Creech secured an athletic training position with UPMC Cole upon graduation this spring and saw her internship as an opportunity to begin the transition into athletic training in a more rural setting than what she has experienced in her clinical rotations throughout her schooling at LHU.

The first half of the spring 2022 semester was spent at Mansfield working primarily with the men’s and women’s basketball teams, but also began working with spring preseason athletes and even some fall athletes. MU was a good transition to working in a more rural setting, overcoming challenges in healthcare access in rural areas, but also still using the collegiate experiences gained while completing clinicals at LHU.

The team physician for MU came to campus each week for any referrals the athletic trainers may have had; to collaborate regularly to provide the best care to the athletes. Many conversations between the team doctor, MU athletic administration and athletic trainers took place throughout the creation of new COVID-19 return to play protocols and consideration of implementing a new mental health screening technology.

Creech was allowed the opportunities to participate in these discussions and to provide insights regarding this new screening technology that she was introduced to during her time at LHU. She was welcomed with open arms by her preceptors, Oakes and Wright, and they were able to bond over their similar experiences when completing the athletic training program at LHU.

UPMC Cole holds many contracts in the surrounding areas with high schools to provide athletic training services to both junior high and varsity student-athletes. O’Brien is currently providing services to three local high schools in Potter, McKean and Cameron Counties due to an ongoing need for athletic trainers in this rural area in Pennsylvania.

Throughout the second half of the semester, Creech completed most of her clinical hours working with Smethport Area Jr./Sr. High School, but also gained experiences with athletes at other schools including Coudersport Area JSHS, Cameron County JSHS, Northern Potter JSHS, and Galeton JSHS.

Building relationships with athletic directors, coaches, athletes and other athletic trainers at various schools in this area will proved to be very helpful in transitioning to her role at UPMC. Working with junior high and high school athletes, rather than collegiate athletes, has proven to be quite the mindset change. In the high school setting, there are a lot of teaching moments, such as how and what to stretch, how to properly warm up to prevent injury, pain versus soreness and even differentiating growing pains from injury pains. This is not to say these things are not present at the collegiate level, just a small fraction of the other injuries that are seen in that setting.

“I have been able to gain more on-field experiences throughout my time at both placements, which was difficult at LHU due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Creech said. “I have been able to apply my knowledge that I gained throughout the coursework at LHU to work with billing, inventory, documentation, risk management and the referral process as well as the hands-on skills including evaluation/diagnosis, treatment plans, immediate and emergency care.”

Overall, Creech has loved meeting and working with each new administrator, coach, athlete and athletic trainer and gaining insights that come with each new interaction. She looks forward to taking all the experiences gained throughout clinical rotations and her coursework at LHU to UPMC Cole in the Coudersport area.

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