emoji asking the question, What's my why? In relation to what motivates someone daily to be an athletic trainer.
What’s my “Why” with Josh Beard, MA, ATC

What’s my “Why” with Athletic Trainer Community Manager Josh Beard, MA, ATC

National Athletic Training Month 2023 has been one of reflection for me. 

This profession means a great deal to me.

Over 15 years as an AT and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We often hear people ask “what’s your ‘why’?”

“What keeps you coming back?”

Through the long hours, the extended travel, the time away from family and friends…

I think for me it changed as my career progressed. Early on everything was a challenge that I took personally. Solve the puzzle. Nail the diagnosis. Get them back to playing.

Because that is what every athlete wants right? To get back on the field/court/mat etc. as fast as humanly possible? 

So that is how I operated early in my career, with every patient I encountered.

But I wasn’t asking the right questions. I was operating on assumptions.

About half way through my career, I was speaking with a coworker regarding a patient I had hit a wall with. I was stumped. 

“What are their goals?” That was the first question I was asked after I finished giving the rundown of the case. And it is a question that still resonates with me today.

Because I hadn’t asked. I had only assumed that it was to return to play as soon as they could.

Turns out that actually wasn’t their top priority. And the pressure from outside sources on them to get back was actually making things worse. After having a very positive conversation and deciding on a plan together, the patient made significant progress. When I asked them later why they hadn’t brought up their feelings before, the answer was simple.

“You didn’t ask.”

Ouch…Won’t make that mistake again.

And that is when my why changed. 

My why became one of advocacy.

To be the patient’s voice when they might not want to speak up on their own.

To help them discover what is most important to them and achieve those goals.

I look back on the early part of my career and wonder how some of the patient outcomes could have been different if I had asked more questions. If I would have understood that it was not always a physical injury that was bringing them in to see me. 

And I am thankful that I was able to correct it.   

How about you? What is your “why”?

Josh Beard, MA, ATC

AT Community Manager


What’s your “Why” in athletic training?

Send your story to Josh and we’ll share it with the athletic trainer community!

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