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Meet District 8 – Jason Bennett

The FWATA Public Relations Committee Social Media team is highlighting members of District 8 each month.  This month we highlight CATA President, Jason Bennett.

District 8 Monthly Member Highlight: Jason Bennett, DA, ATC
Current Position: AT Program Director, Chapman University
Current FWATA Title: CATA President
What first made you choose athletic training? What inspired you to become an athletic trainer?

I was very interested in medicine when I transferred to Chico State as an undergrad. I was advised to observe in the Athletic Training clinic with Scott and Anita Barker. On my very first day, I was helping a fellow student set-up the field for the first day of football when a player hurt his knee. The athletic training student went to check on him while I sat with another player who walked over complaining of heat illness. After a couple minutes, the player I was with passed out and stopped breathing! I had no idea what to do, and I was so relieved to see Anita Barker sprint out from the Athletic Training clinic to render aid. The patient turned out fine and I learned quickly that I had to be prepared for something new each day. What further inspired me about athletic training was how incredibly smart the staff athletic trainers were and how much they needed to know to be a quality AT. I really enjoyed that I was challenged every day and there was always something new to learn.

How did you first get involved in FWATA?

Getting involved can be as simple as attending conferences or participating in online discussions through social media. There is always a place for members to get involved, especially within public relations or with our legislative action team. I actually first got involved as a student by attending a FWATA in Las Vegas in 1994 or 1995. Scott Barker created the first quiz bowl from scratch and I assisted him with that project. That was my first conference and really enjoyed both the knowledge gained at the meetings but the camaraderie amongst colleagues at the end of the day. When I returned to California after earning my doctorate, I became the Scholarship Chair for FWATA and then PAC chair for the CATA.

What advice would you give to AT students?

Probably the biggest criticism of new graduates from their employers is the students’ “soft skills” like communication. I would say to work on communication skills and emotional intelligence with students’ preceptors and faculty since these are so important in working with colleagues, administrators, parents, and patients. Students are “millennials” and the stigma against millennials from my generation, and those before me, is that they are entitled. In my opinion, the best way to get and keep a job and combat this stigma is for students to work on their communication and emotional intelligence skills.

What are you most proud of when you look back on your career? Or what is your most memorable moment in the profession?

I don’t have a “most proud” moment just yet but I’ll be most proud when we can look back and say that we have earned licensure in California for athletic trainers. After licensure, the next goal would be appropriate pay and staffing in all settings, but primarily in college and secondary schools. I have so many memorable moments in the profession it is difficult to select one, but many of these involve the fun and relationships I have with my colleagues, students, alumni, and mentors.

What are you looking forward to most as our profession continues to grow and develop?

I look forward to having licensure for athletic trainers in California. Our CATA members have been incredible the last several years in lobbying toward this goal and we are very close to making this a reality. I also look forward to the increased hiring of certified athletic trainers in the secondary schools. While it has only been 14 years since the elimination of the internship program route to certification, many athletic trainers, coaches, and athletic administrators continue to think that un-supervised students are “good enough” to provide adequate health care coverage. We all need to continue to educate our employers about our value because the practice of hiring or allowing un-supervised students will only serve to keep wages as low as possible. We have hurt ourselves with this practice by de-valuing the role of the certified AT in the minds of employers. I am encouraged that our profession is beginning to limit this practice as this will certainly benefit the quality of care received by student athletes in the secondary school setting. With licensure, advertising our value, and only having qualified clinicians, I believe AT will flourish in California and will greatly benefit athletic trainers in the long run with an increase in recognition, salary, and respect.

Is there anything you would like the members of district 8 to know about your committee or things happening in our district?

I would like the members of District 8 to know that our CATA managing board, governmental affairs committee, and legislative action team are working tirelessly for recognition of athletic training in California. The NATA and FWATA have been tremendously supportive towards these efforts and I am extremely grateful for their support. One thing I’ve learned is that lobbying in Sacramento actually starts at the grassroots level in the local regions. For those that would like to know how they can help towards this goal, I would ask them to do two things this upcoming year between now and April. First, make sure that your patients, administration, and parents know what a certified athletic trainer is and what you do. Utilize the NATA’s value models for colleges/universities or secondary schools to demonstrate your value and don’t be afraid to speak up about how you have helped your patients, either physically or mentally. Many times we think that the people we work with understand what we do, and we may not speak up because we are “just doing our job”, but I’m continually reminded that many times the very people we work for do not understand the complexities of our job or how valuable we are to our patients. Second, go to our new CATA website at ca-at.org and utilize the “PR-in-a-box” or “Event-in-a-box” for National Athletic Training month. These are public relations efforts that give you a step-by-step approach for a member to invite key figures (e.g., administration, PTA, media, legislators, etc.) to your place of employment and talk about athletic training. With a focused effort from the CA members of FWATA, we can have a tremendous impact not only with state recognition for Athletic Training, but also with hiring practices, improved salaries, and respect.

Courtesy of the Public Relations Committee

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