During the general session of this week's NATA Clinical Symposium in St. Louis, MO; Mark Coberley was installed to represent District 5 as the new District Director to the NATA Board of Directors. With new NATA bylaws, Mark has been elected for a three year term with a possible second term of two years if approved by a vote of the membership. As the District Director, Mark will represent District 5 on athletic training issues at the national level. Mark will have direct liaison responsibilities on the NATA Board of Directors to the College/University Athletic Trainers Committee, the Governmental Affairs Committee, the Federal Legislative Committee, and will serve as the NATAPAC (NATA Political Action Committee) Chair for at least the next year.
Below is a short Q&A with Mark as he embarks on a great experience with the NATA Board of Directors.
Q: Why did you decide to consider running for the Director position for NATA District 5?
A: I wanted to continue to contribute to the association, to carry on the great work done by our predecessors, and to continue to help advance this great profession at all levels in the ever changing health care world at the national level.
Q: How have you seen your professional service help you in your career?
A: I don’t know that I have looked to professional service to help my own career, but participation in professional service activities over the last 25 years had certainly helped in advancing our athletic training program here. When you get the chance to serve on committees and task forces which have highly successful, motivated people who are very good at their jobs, you have the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences, and can utilize them to better your own program and continue to advance it at the highest levels possible.
Q: What are the main challenges that you see the profession of Athletic Training facing in the next 5-10 years?
A: I believe there are two big challenges facing the profession in the next 5-10 years: (1)firmly establishing the athletic trainer’s place in the health care delivery system in modern medicine, and (2) transitioning from a bachelors degree education to a masters degree education to enter the profession.
There are many facets to establishing the athletic trainer’s role in the health care delivery system. Public awareness and relevant research will be a key to solving this challenge. The NATA needs to take the lead in facilitating research for best practices and methods regarding health and welfare issues of athletes, role delineation for athletic trainers in all work settings, and efforts to insure proper compensation for services provided by athletic trainers. We need to continue to press to work for legislation for sports safety and reimbursement for services. Ultimately, all of these goals are more easily attained when our profession becomes recognized by the medical communities and general public as a necessary resource for health care delivery to athletes and the physically active. Public recognition for our profession is higher now than at anytime in our history, yet we are still relatively unknown to many. We are a young profession who needs greater exposure of our skills and abilities which we know are invaluable resources when utilized. To achieve this, we need to take advantage of our professional partnerships, built-in ability for media exposure, and continued public relations efforts at all levels. The work done on this over the past several years has been fantastic, and I will continue to push for even more growth in this area. We are in a prime position in the current atmosphere of public focus on athlete health and welfare for our profession to grow successfully. I believe the new NATA Strategic Plan will emphasize this.
Lastly, the NATABOD and strategic partners will need to develop resources and information needed by our members as we transition to Master's Degree programs in the coming years. There will be growing pains as we progress through this transition, but the potential impact and end results in further advancing the skills and health care capabilities of the athletic trainer through this educational change are exciting.
Q: What are some of the goals you have as you serve in this new capacity?
A: I hope to utilize my experiences and relationships with board members and committee chairs to contribute to guiding the profession in the right direction to solve some of the challenges we identified above.
Q: How would you advise a young professional or even a veteran in the middle of their career that is contemplating beginning or increasing their professional service?
A: Get involved in a professional area which (1) interestests you, and (2) allows you to make a contribution to the organization you believe is meaningful. Start with a small committee or workgroup that you can see results of your work in a short time period. If you enjoy the work, enjoy exchanging ideas with other professionals, and contributing to the profession, seek out other opportunities within the organization and start taking on leadership roles if you are comfortable with it. I been able to participate on committees, workgroups, task forces, and boards at the state, regional, and national levels, and have enjoyed working on all of them because of the opportunity to learn and communicate with other like-minded professionals. We have had more avenues open up to opportunities for our program and graduates through relationships built in professional organization participation than any other activity we are involved with. You are never too young, or old, to participate in advancing the profession and your own program.