In May of 2016, a small group of athletic trainers in China, decided that there was more to be accomplished in their new home. It was agreed that they could accomplish more together through collaboration than independently.
Between working at graduate school and as an assistant athletic trainer, only 4 years into the profession, I was already feeling professionally burnt. High stress, high demand, undervalued, long hours, and low pay. Sometimes the math came out to that I was barely making above minimum wage - in New York City. I felt I was destined to count 3 sets of 10 reps forever.
Athletic trainers had been in China in an unorganized, sparse, or informal capacity since around 2008. There was no formal standing - there wasn't even a work visa.
When I arrived to Shanghai in 2014, I was surprised that there wasn't much progress on our end. Locally, the AT education programs had started at universities and AT was going through the governmental approval process. However, there was no framework, no resources, no support - it was the wild, wild East.
We had a blank slate. The following year in '15-'16, my colleagues and I started circulating an aphorism, "set it up for the next person." Build something, just a little foundation, for the next athletic trainer to work off of. This may only be our transient home, but our impact can be great.
As we get closer to our 3rd Annual Meeting, it has been a privilege to contribute to the growth of athletic training in China and collaborate with all of our dedicated members. I challenge my colleagues:
What can you do to make your own practice better?
How can you improve sport safety?
How can you make a difference in AT advocacy?
What can you do to "set it up for the next person"?
It has now been 4 years since I accepted an unexpected offer for an initial 10-month internship in Shanghai. I will be moving out of China next month, it's a very bittersweet time. Shanghai will always be my second home and I will be continuing to progress our profession in any way that I can contribute.
"Most people will never really get to know the real you. But they'll know your work." - Ray Allen