Athletic Trainers in the operating room

The Steadman Clinic's surgeons specialize in a wide variety of orthopaedic specialties and athletic trainers play an important role in surgery. The athletic training resident gains unique experience with surgeons in all aspects of surgery. The athletic trainer will work with the healthcare team in pre-op, intra-op and post-op patient care. You are trained on assisting in the operating room.

Surgery Observation

Athletic trainers are introduced into the operating room the first week of the program. Here they are taught the basics of sterile field and policies of the facilities. Surgical observation is built into the academic schedule and athletic trainers are encouraged to log hours in the OR for a variety of cases. During surgical observation athletic trainers learn: roles of the different healthcare professionals, surgical tools and instruments, setting sterile fields and techniques, surgical anatomy, arthroscopy viewing, surgical techniques, exams under anesthesia, graft prep, wound closure, and post-operative care.

Surgical Assisting

After observation hours in the operating room the athletic training resident is given the opportunity to assist in the OR with our surgeons. Per our facilities regulations, all ATs that assist in the OR must have their Colorado Surgical Assistant Registration and be approved by the facilities to act as a surgical assist. Athletic training residents apply for the surgical assist registration before employment starts at The Steadman Clinic.

The DORA state registration for a surgical assist does not require additional training for an athletic trainer. You must register to be a surgical assist in Colorado and complete a background check and application.

Our facilities and residency do not require the Orthopedic Technologist Certification (OTC) for an AT to assist in the OR.

What is an Athletic Trainer in the physician practice setting?

Athletic trainers that work in an orthopaedic clinical setting with a physician are commonly referred to as athletic trainers in the physician practice setting. Athletic trainers in the physician practice setting are trained healthcare professionals who provide semi-autonomous health care under a licensed physician. The National Athletic Trainers' Association has resources for athletic trainers interested in learning more about AT's in the physician practice setting.

The Steadman Clinic's AT residency program provides athletic trainers working experience and training in the physician practice setting. The majority of the residency is completed in the physician's office learning and performing the daily tasks and responsibilities that occur in this setting. 

Examples of Responsibilities
  • Patient documentation
  • Patient history taking
  • Managing clinical flow
  • Injury evaluation
  • Patient education
  • Diagnostic imaging ordering
  • Communication with staff and patients
  • Casting/bracing/splinting
  • Assisting with in-office procedures
  • Setting up sterile fields
  • Pre and post-surgical care
  • Dressing changes
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Medical supplies and stocking
  • Insurance coding and billing
  • Rehabilitation documentation and protocols

The daily duties and responsibilities of the fellows differ on each rotation and with each physician's team; these differing experiences allow the athletic trainer to see the wide career paths that can be available as an athletic trainer in the physician practice setting.

Examples of Educational Components of Clinical Responsibilities

Interpretation of diagnostic imaging (x-ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, EMG)
Enhancing evaluation and diagnostic skills
Special test for orthopaedic injuries and disorders
Differential diagnosis
Cast/splint/brace application
Surgical anatomy
How to code and bill for clinic and surgery
Dictating skills
Fracture classifications and treatment
Surgical intervention and techniques
Medication and injectables
Rehabilitation and treatment

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