My physician extender, Tyler Cram, ATC, OTC, is an invaluable part of my team that greatly benefits my ability to take care of patients in a timely fashion. My athletic trainer serves many roles for me. Because I am an active clinician, teacher, and researcher, my athletic trainer helps me to extend my roles in all of these areas.
First, my athletic trainer helps to room patients, initiates the history and basic physical examination, arranges for paperwork such as lab studies, MRI scans, and general prescriptions, and reviews radiographs and MRI scans with me. While an athletic trainer is not allowed to review radiographs and MRI scans with the patients, I find that he is equally competent to a physician because of the large numbers of scans that we have gone through. This proves invaluable to me because he knows what I am looking for on the radiographs and MRI scans and often can have the key views up for me to review.
Second, we have an athletic training fellowship program at The Steadman Clinic. Tyler helps to educate the athletic training fellows on what is needed to be an outstanding physician extender. In addition, he frequently quizzes them on physical examination, radiographic, and MRI findings to further extend their knowledge base. In addition, current and former sports medicine fellows frequently contact Tyler as to my surgical preferences for grafts, graft preparation, positioning in surgery, and other things that help facilitate the care of the patient. In this regard, I find that he is an excellent physician extender.
Finally, Tyler also helps to coordinate several of my research studies. We have several Level 1 prospective studies, which are extremely difficult to arrange; Tyler serves as an essential source to help patients fill out paperwork for these studies after I have reviewed the study with them, to make sure that the patient follow-up for these studies is performed, and also has been an invaluable resource in the preparation and submission of manuscripts for peer reviewed publication.
Overall, I believe that an athletic trainer can be an invaluable resource to one’s practice. While I recognize that not all practices are like mine where an athletic trainer would need to perform all these roles, the expertise and professionalism displayed by an athletic trainer can help extend one’s practice and lead to improved overall patient care and outcomes.