Alumni Testimonials(NOTE: Until 2011, this program was known as NHMI's Athletic Training Fellowship.)
Melissa Hango (18-19)
I remember the day that I learned about NHMI’s Athletic Training Residency like it was yesterday. I was in my senior year of college and unsure what the next step was going to be. One of my professors approached me and said, “Hey, I just forwarded you an email about a program in New Hampshire—it sounds perfect for you.” Sure enough, I opened my email and there was a message from Amy Hollingworth. I quickly ran back to my dorm, got on my laptop, and began researching the Residency. The more I learned, the more excited I became because my professor was right—this sounded like a dream come true. Having the ability to work as an Athletic Trainer, rotate with physicians and allied healthcare providers, and continue my education was just what I needed as I figured out the next step in my career path.
I arrived at NHMI nervous and lacking confidence. I questioned whether I was ready to be out working on my own. However, that didn’t last long as preseason hit and we were immediately immersed in our Resident responsibilities. Every day, I saw new conditions, learned from new cases, and felt my confidence grow. I realized that I was surrounded by an incredible network of Athletic Trainers and healthcare providers who were here to help me when I needed it. It was the perfect transition from undergrad to the real world—I was able to work autonomously, but also had a support group to fall back on when needed.
One of the foundational concepts of the Residency is reflection. We exercised this daily through reflections of our clinical rotations, continuing education opportunities, and experiences treating athletes. As the Residency wrapped up and I created my final capstone, it was so rewarding to read back through all of my reflective pieces and see just how far I’d come. I realized that sometimes you can’t see the big picture until after the fact and having records of my experiences allowed me to tie it all together at the end of the year.
Since completing the Residency, I’ve found myself utilizing the skills and experiences that I gained every day. I am currently working as an Athletic Trainer at Washington College, and it has become automatic for me to ask patient history questions that hit all body systems as we practiced so many times throughout the problem-based learning curriculum. I’m constantly reflecting on my work, looking for ways to learn and grow. The transition to my new position was much easier because of the exposure to such a variety of opportunities at NHMI and the confidence that I gained through them. On the online NHMI Residency page it says, “Set yourself apart. See more in a year than most will in a career.” Looking back, this phrase is so meaningful. I absolutely believe that this experience will set me apart from other clinicians. It’s rare to have the ability to say that I’ve witnessed over 80 surgical cases, 600+ hours of hands-on shadowing with top-notch physicians and healthcare providers, completed a research study, and participated in countless didactic activities and educational opportunities, all in my first year as a clinician. My network has grown tremendously, and I’ve had the ability to work alongside some of the best, most hard-working clinicians that I’ve ever met. One year is far too short, but NHMI will always have a special place in my heart.
Benjamin Wheeler (16-17)
"What am I going to do with my life?" I thought as I sat in front of my laptop a mere month before graduating from college. I frantically scrolled through graduate school opportunities, entry-level job postings, and miscellaneous internships as I worried about what my classmates already had lined up after graduation. Nothing jumped out in a way that made me excited…until I reached a posting that described the NHMI Integrated Clinical Sports Medicine Residency.
An opportunity to shadow with virtually all realms of healthcare? Yes, please! A chance to continue working as an athletic trainer? Absolutely! Research opportunities? Perfect. "Seeing more in a year than most will see in a career?" Who could pass that up?
The education provided by NHMI is not like sitting in a "conventional" classroom and does wonders for diversifying the young athletic trainer's knowledge. I can't say enough about the value of the shadowing opportunities as well as didactic sessions to compliment the foundational information that I gained through my undergraduate education. Furthermore, every day in the residency brings with it a new challenge and new experiences.
It is easy to look into this program as a way to improve oneself as a clinician because of the amazing opportunities that come with the position. However, I realize now that the greatest thing about this residency is what it gives back to the field of medicine. Residents get to become a part of the growing Safe Sports Network family during their time in Manchester. They serve the community through projects aimed at the well-being of all youth athletes in a massive geographical area.
There is no amount of space that I feel could be used to adequately explain the value of programs like the pioneers at NHMI have developed. This residency did more to shape me as a professional than I could've imagined, and provided me with enough experience to reference my time in New Hampshire daily during my current practice. If you want to find some direction in your healthcare career, learn a ton, and/or become a more competent and confident athletic trainer, all of those things will be accomplished in the residency.
Upon completion of the residency program, I returned to my alma mater, Northern Michigan University, to work as an athletic trainer and pursue my goal of going to medical school.
Madeline Simon (15-16, IN THE MIDDLE WITH RESIDENCY ALUMNI MATTHEW NOWAK 14-15 AND KATELYN METZGER 15-16)
I first heard of the NHMI residency program from my former professor (an alumna of the program) while I was a student at Illinois State. I thought to myself, "huh, that sounds pretty cool." After a series of conversations and guidance from my teacher, I applied, interviewed, and was offered the residency position! I left Chicago and headed to New Hampshire with no idea of what I was getting myself into. I knew that I had a great learning opportunity ahead of me, but little did I know that it would be so much more. My experiences in New Hampshire not only helped me expand my knowledge in athletic training and general medicine, but taught me how to reflect and grow as a person. Looking back, describing the residency program as "cool" was the biggest understatement of the year.
When I first arrived in New Hampshire, I was nervous and lacked confidence in myself to begin my career as an athletic trainer. Thankfully, I didn't have time to ponder these nerves because I dove into work immediately. Between rotations in the morning, our research study, working in the free drop-in clinic, and covering at Manchester West High School, every day was different and a new learning experience. I don't think many people can say that they have ever observed a craniotomy in the morning, given a presentation on epidermolysis bullosa at lunch, and diagnosed a concussion or two by evening. Working in so many different roles, with the support of so many individuals around me, allowed me to discover confidence in myself I never knew existed. I felt fulfilled working for a non-profit organization that offers free services to the community of Manchester. Moving to the Northeast and working in a city such as Manchester allowed me to realize how sheltered I had been living in the suburban Chicagoland area.
A theme for the year in NH would be to always "find the nugget." This was done through reflections, more reflections, and even reflecting on our reflections. Although bothersome at times, these reflections taught me to never just go through the motions of life. I now find myself pausing and asking, "what am I taking away from this experience? What am I learning?"
Although I am not exactly sure what the future holds for me, I am forever grateful that I was able to be a part of the NHMI residency program. This unique experience allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone, develop life-long friendships, and discover what it truly means to help others. This has set the bar very high; any future career of mine is going to have a lot to live up to!
Jason Roberto (14-15)
I have had over a year now to reflect on my time while at NHMI. I have successfully completed the didactic year of my graduate degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Now, in the clinical year of PA school, I find that the transition from the classroom to the clinic was made far easier because of my time at NHMI. The lessons I learned as an integrated clinical sports medicine resident have carried me further than I could have hoped. From building rapport with my patients, completing systematic and purposeful history taking, formulating an appropriate differential diagnosis, to just plain navigating the medical profession, these skills have helped me become the clinician I am today.
There were two very important aspects of the residency that taught me these fundamental lessons; problem-based learning and patient interaction. Problem-based learning cases teach residents to approach a patient's condition in a systematic manner, starting with the creation of a broad list of differential diagnoses. Through thoughtful system-based history taking, residents begin to narrow down the differential diagnosis, come to a conclusion and discuss a treatment plan. This practice is crucial in medicine and to this day I continue to use what I learned during these didactic sessions. Furthermore, what residents are taught during problem-based learning is solidified during rotations. The rotations demonstrate how medical providers across various specialties all use these skills. Along with evaluation techniques, residents are also able to observe how medical providers interact with patients. This opportunity allows for an understanding on how to build trust and establish a professional relationship with patients. Important skills needed by every allied health care profession.
Even though most of this testimonial has been discussing how the residency helped me as a PA student, I benefitted even more as an athletic trainer. My time as a resident helped me to grow and develop as a newly certified athletic trainer. As I progressed through the residency curriculum, I became more confident in my abilities as an athletic trainer. I attribute this maturation to the athletic trainers and medical providers I worked with throughout the residency. I was able to ask questions whenever I needed to and I could always count on the availability of my colleagues. However, despite this support, the NHMI staff continued to encourage and challenge me to be independent and make my own educated decisions. Their trust and support helped me to become the athletic trainer and health care provider that I am today.
While the focus of the residency is professional, there is also time to branch out socially. Matt Nowak and I made the most of our time as residents. We frequented the numerous restaurants around Manchester, hiked local mountains, visited the coastal towns of New Hampshire, and played basketball with other medical providers and locals. Along with these purely social experiences, there were many fun opportunities associated with athletic training and NHMI; working with the Manchester Monarchs and visiting Stowe, VT were two of the more exciting professional activates.
Whether it was work or fun, I made many memories during my time as a resident. These memories will continue to guide me towards success, as I remember the experience and the people at NHMI that played such an important part in my life. Thank you NHMI!
Max Cohen (13-14, on the right, pictured with Residency Program Director Amy Hollingworth and his co-resident Kevin Silva.)
As I sat at my computer senior year, thinking about what I wanted to do after graduation, I decided I wanted to do everything. I looked through the NATA job board listings and saved a couple opportunities, but one stood out significantly among the rest - the NHMI Integrated Clinical Sports Medicine Residency, a program designed to produce exceptional healthcare practitioners by engaging them with all aspects of healthcare, through learning, practice, teaching, observation and research.
The program met and surpassed all of my expectations and this one year helped shape my life tremendously. Not only was I able to learn in classroom style from the various planned sessions, but I also gained an incredible amount of experiential knowledge and wisdom from the rotations and inter-professional interactions. The residency allowed me a unique opportunity to really advance my understanding of topics such as differential diagnosis, imaging, pharmacology, surgery, general medical conditions, and even alternative and complementary medicine. These lessons came formally, from veteran athletic trainers, orthopedic surgeons, radiologists, and many other healthcare providers as well as informally, over a beverage with some of the greatest minds in the field. I was then able to apply this learning right away in the clinic and at the high school to rapidly grow as an athletic trainer. As a first-year practitioner and the Co-Head Athletic Trainer at Manchester West High School, I was given freedom and trusted to implement this knowledge and function relatively independently, however I still knew I had the support of a dedicated team of athletic trainers behind me when needed.
During this short year, I was exposed to everything from bunions to open heart surgery in rotations and the kids that I worked with in the clinic and at the high school truly pushed my problem solving and creative thinking abilities. At times, I could find myself assessing and treating over ten athletic, youth patients before lunchtime, and later that day, evaluating the optic disc margins of a middle-aged man in a neurology rotation. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and for this I am certainly grateful.
I came out of this year with so much more than I went into it with, both the tangible and intangible. I became certified as a Basic Life Support Instructor. I became a better teacher and a better learner. I was able to truly give back to a community in need and reap the rewarding feelings of doing so. I honed communication skills, critical appraisal skills, reflection skills, and grew to become a more mature, confident, observant and reliable healthcare provider. I was even fortunate enough to come out of it with a life-long friend in my co-resident, like many others who have passed through the NHMI apartment doors. The program nourishes a mindset and lifestyle of continued learning and reflection and has provided me so many enriching experiences that I feel prepared to enter medical school confidently and with a great deal of experience under my belt.
Brad Endres (12-13, on the left, pictured with a Texas bud at a Red Sox-Rangers game at Fenway)
To paraphrase the first sentence of the Residency page on the NHMI website: “You will have the opportunity to learn more in one year than you could hope to see in a career.” When researching NHMI prior to applying to the Residency, this was the one statement that stuck out the most to me. How could a program even think about making this claim? At the time, it sounded like an exaggerated attempt to bring in applicants. However, as I now look back upon my Residency year, I can honestly say that it is much closer to an understatement than hyperbole.
I find it very hard to capture in writing the scope of learning offered to Residents. Each rotation brought about a new challenge to learn as much as physically and mentally possible (even more so than my undergraduate studies!). As the co-head athletic trainer of Manchester West High School I was afforded the opportunity to integrate academic knowledge with my clinical abilities in order to provide my student-athletes with the highest quality health care possible. Outside of our rotations and AT commitments, cadaver labs, symposia, and continuing education courses were quite literally at our fingertips. I could go on endlessly about the vast amount of clinical and didactic knowledge that I gained during my year in New England. However, these educational gains, which were immense in their own right, paled in comparison to the amount of personal growth I experienced as a Resident. The structure of the Residency allows you to deeply understand who you were, who you are, and who you want to become. Frequent “reflections” helped to feed this growth by requiring me to articulate what I found important in each rotation. Taking an active role in the interview process for the incoming Residents was also very beneficial to my personal improvement. Hearing from other applicants about their professional goals and personal passions challenged me to take a hard look at what I truly hoped to accomplish in my career. Consequently, I found my passion is research and would not have come to this realization without the Residency.
As I finish writing this testimony, I am brought back to the day I arrived in Manchester as a small-town Texas kid thousands of miles from home, immersed in a different culture, and required to live through my first real winter (and eventually hurricane!). I learned to snowboard, watched a baseball game at Fenway Park, and was introduced to many different kinds of apples (other than just Red and Green). I made some mistakes and learned from them. I did some things right and remembered them. I made colleagues and some truly amazing friends and mentors that I still keep in touch with today. Most importantly, I made a family that I can always turn to. Ultimately, this Residency is not “the opportunity to learn more in one year than you could hope to see in a career.”
It is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Nora Beltz (10-11; pictured with Lindsay Labore, 06-07 Resident)
“To be able to have a positive influence on someone’s day is a powerful thing, to be able to positively influence someone’s life is incredible.”
This quote is the last slide from my capstone presentation at NHMI and I feel it is a great representation of not only who I have become because of NHMI’s Integrated Clinical Sports Medicine Residency, but feel it also represents how NHMI has affected not only one year of my life, but my life as a whole.
It has been three years since my fellowship ended and I am both surprised, yet not surprised at all, at how extremely relevant this quote, as well as my five take-home points (or “nuggets” as Laura likes to call them!) from my final capstone presentation, are to my current professional life. My five nuggets have shaped my career and defined my professional purpose and mantra.
I truly believe that the wealth of exposure during my year as an NHMI Fellow has made me a well-rounded athletic trainer, prepared for not only the day-to-day management of athletes but also the most obscure or challenging injury or diagnosis. I am always moving towards differential diagnoses and consider all avenues of prevention and intervention with my athletes. I often say that a successful athletic trainer needs to know a little bit about a lot of things and the NHMI Integrated Clinical Sports Medicine Residency prepares you for just that.
No matter where my career takes me within the world of sports medicine, I know that my knowledge base and experiences are unparalleled because of NHMI, but that I will always have questions and always need to learn more. Because of NHMI, I know that how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Because of NHMI, I know that patient and athlete care is more than just diagnosis and treatment, it is about education and trust.
The relationships you build as an NHMI Resident will last a lifetime and can open doors that you didn’t even know were there. Laura and her team of preceptors have become not only mentors, but I feel very fortunate to be able to call many of them colleagues and friends.
Justin Bric (11-12; pictured with from L-R Keith Belmore 07-08, Dawn Belmore 08-09 and Sossan Al-Darraji, 11-12 at the 2012 Boston Marathon)
My experience in Manchester, NH with NHMI’s Integrated Sports Medicine Residency truly was a unique learning experience that rivals any other in regards to personal, professional and academic growth. The NHMI athletic training residency masterfully blends on-the-job training and experiences that are vital for every new graduate with structured academic opportunities and projects that are stimulating enough to satisfy even the hungriest inquisitive minds.
Specifically, the residency helped me solidify the connections between academic theory and clinical practice. The clinical rotations allowed me to observe, ask and participate in all realms health care as it is practiced today, bypassing the inevitable time-delay between current clinical practices and traditional academic education. I was able to gain hands-on athletic training experience in almost every setting imaginable, ranging from high school to professional sports, as well as clinical and research settings. This variety allowed me to develop my clinical skills in the most effective and personalized manner possible: trial and error.
Being immersed in the family of practitioners active in NHMI’s mission helped me gain a deeper level of understanding of conditions athletic trainers recognize and treat on a daily basis. The opportunity to conduct an evaluation, compare and contrast that evaluation with the sports medicine physician that you referred to, observe the surgical procedure to treat the condition, and play an active role in the following rehabilitation is commonplace in this residency.
I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of NHMI’s residency, and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to discover first-hand and shape the foundation of their career.
Molly Day (10-11)
At 8:30am on a Tuesday, I crammed the last bag of clothes into my car and set the destination of my GPS unit to Manchester, NH, a 1,300 mile trip. With my home state of Wisconsin disappearing in the rear view mirror and fresh credentials behind my name, I had newfound eagerness to start my tenure as a NHMI Athletic Training Resident. I first walked into the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute ready for an intense year of learning. What I did not expect was the personal and professional transformation I would undergo in the process. As a NHMI Resident, I became a member of a tirelessly supportive family that continually pushed me to succeed beyond expectations. I will continue to look back on this experience, decades from now, as one of the greatest and most inspiring years of my life.
"Immersion" exemplifies the essence of the NHMI experience. Starting on the very first day of the Residency, I became submerged into medicine to a depth beyond my wildest dreams. The incredible surgeries I was able to observe, autonomy I was provided as co-head high school athletic trainer, hands-on dissection labs, continuing education opportunities, research endeavors and endless knowledge easily makes the NHMI Residency an incredibly unique and valuable experience. The opportunity to partake in rotations in all medical specialties created a comprehensive understanding of medicine beyond the realm of athletic training. Learning from a wide range of physicians and allied health professionals helped me refine my evaluation techniques while providing ample opportunities for collaboration and professional networking. Furthermore, the time spent hiking in the White Mountains, walking along sandy beaches in Maine, and strolling through historical Boston have created lifelong memories. I encountered a new culture on the East Coast, exploring picturesque coastal communities and tasting exemplary seafood.
To get the most out of the NHMI experience, you cannot just sit back and let the learning come to you, but you must take initiative and seek it out! As I now begin the next chapter of my life as a medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, I realize how monumental this experience was to my personal and professional development. One of the most important lessons I took away is that learning never ceases. The NHMI Residency only lasted a year, but the learning and application of the knowledge resulting from my experiences will continue for a lifetime.
Heidi Pieper (00-01)
Upon completing my Athletic Training degree, I had no idea in which area I wanted to work. Grad school was an option, but I wasn’t sure in which field I wanted to specialize (still not sure about that one). Getting a job was an option but I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go. I found the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute fellowship and thought this sounded like a great opportunity for me to see what avenue I wanted for my career. It was the best decision I could have made. Not only did I further my education, my eyes were also opened to the many other health care professions that sports medicine entails. I saw how orthopedic surgeons worked on not just high school/college athletes but physically active adults of all ages. I observed the craziness and sometimes lull of the emergency department, and the process involved from intake to discharge. The vast array of surgical observations put the years of studying anatomy and kinesiology into plain sight and practicality. The precision of cataract surgery and hand surgery to the sawing and cementing in total joint and amputation surgery was mind blowing. Being able to see the follow ups visits with patients in the doctors’ offices as well as physical and occupational therapy, and orthotists completed the whole picture.
Upon completing the fellowship, I realized that I wanted to take what I had learned and work as a physician extender. I was able to continue learning from surgeons, physical therapists, and other Athletic Trainers as well as working in a high school setting. I have worked with all age groups of athletes and a vast array of physicians and other health care providers. I am currently working with a new sports medicine program. I feel that the education that I received from the fellowship has helped me see the sports medicine team as a “whole.” The NHMI fellowship provided me with all of the opportunities I could have asked for being a new grad, and it helped to build the strong foundation for my career as a Certified Athletic Trainer.
Adam Hernandez (09-10)
How does one articulate an experience that has so truly and profoundly shaped and influenced both their professional and personal lives? As I sat down to try and write about my NHMI experience I was struck by the enormity of the task. After many drafts and many failed attempts to truly express myself I came to the conclusion that the best way to describe my time at NHMI is simply: Top five experiences of my life!
To say that I learned more in one year then I ever have before would be a complete understatement and would not do my time at NHMI the justice it truly deserves. I knew my experience would be special when the first day of rotations I was able to go with the physician I was shadowing to help relocate a hip in the ER. Only now as I reflect on my time at NHMI, can I begin to fully appreciate all the experiences and teachable moments that I was part of. My orthopedic evaluation skills have grown tenfold, my rehabilitation skills were nurtured and strengthen, and my understanding of a myriad of diverse medical professionals has grown exponentially. While at NHMI I was able to actively engage in my own education and was encouraged by the faculty and staff daily.
Many of my fondest memories from NHMI are the professional and personal relationships that I was able to build. My team and network of supporters and mentors has grown greatly. The staff and faculty of NHMI want you to succeed and do their best to see that you do. As I leave NHMI I know I am part of a very special family that will always be there to guide me, support me, and even give me a little tough love if that is what I need to succeed. Stepping out into a new and exciting career as an athletic trainer I am confident, because of my time at NHMI, that I can tackle any obstacle that is placed in front of me and I will come out the other end stronger and wiser.
NHMI has made me not only a better athletic trainer but also a better person. Without reservation, I would recommend the NHMI experience to both new athletic trainers and the seasoned veteran alike. Jobs come and they go but when you are given the once in a lifetime opportunity to do something great you should always take the risk and jump in feet first. NHMI is THAT opportunity. So close your eyes, hold your breath, and jump in. Do not worry if you can't swim. Your NHMI family will guide you through the waters.
Dawn (Schisler) Belmore (08-09)
To have been blessed with the opportunity to take part in this program has absolutely been the highlight of my personal and professional life. I came to NHMI having just finished my Master's degree in education, aspiring to find a position where I could not only work as a clinician in a collegiate setting, but also teach in an athletic training education program. Knowing I had no formal teaching experience, and only two years working as a certified graduate assistant athletic trainer, the Fellowship was exactly what I needed to get to the career I wanted.
Every rotation was valuable, enlightening, challenging, and inspiring in its own way. While the pace of the rotations was fast, there was always enough time to make a meaningful relationship with each of the Fellowship faculty members.
To have so many physicians, athletic trainers, allied health care professionals, and physical and occupational therapists care about me and the educational experience I was receiving was life altering.
No question was dismissed, and I was constantly challenged to achieve a higher level of thinking. I became notoriously known for feverishly taking notes about everything I saw on my rotations, so much so I had a couple faculty members worried I was also writing their personal commentary on the cases we saw. Those two notebooks became my diaries to the patients, cases, surgeries, and follow up care that I was seeing. I'm still trying to digest and process everything I encountered in that one short year. If there is one piece of advice I can offer to future Fellows, it would be to always carry a notebook in your pocket and when you encounter those pivotal moments, write it down! You won't regret it!
Michael Moran (95-96)
New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute's ATC Fellowship was such an integral part of my career and personal development. The structure of the program opens your eyes to the many different facets of Healthcare, not just Sports Medicine. Additionally, the professionals that you interact with over the course of the fellowship teach you so much more than just Healthcare, they help teach you about life in general. I can honestly say that my time in New Hampshire was a critical developmental step in my career. I would highly recommend this program to any early careerist Certified Athletic Trainer.
Sarah Philipp (08-09)
"One's mind, once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions." Oliver Wendell Holmes
My senior year in college I came across the previous quote and thought it was such a good fit for the type of health-care professional I wanted (and want) to be. I believe that one should never stop learning, a belief I expressed in my application for the fellowship, and one that I feel Laura saw as a "fit" for the type of person who could utilize what the fellowship has to offer. There was a time when I thought I'd have to decide between being an Athletic Trainer and whatever else I could choose to be. I was so grateful for receiving the opportunity to have a full 12 months dedicated to learning the ins and outs of various health-care professions to find my niche. I know if you asked one of my closest friends from undergrad why she thought I chose the fellowship she would say, "Sarah was looking for where she could take her knowledge of athletic training to be something else." What I found instead was how having diverse hands-on experiences afforded by the fellowship could help shape me into exactly what I wanted to be as an Athletic Trainer. In an effort to balance living in the moment and figuring out what's next I had the epiphany that this is the field for me and I can create space for what I want under the Athletic Training umbrella. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, through continuing education, there is opportunity to gain further knowledge in areas of personal weakness as well as to hone in on areas of personal interest. NHMI is truly an extended family and the personal relationships that have come and that are hopefully to come as I pursue graduate school are the greatest benefit of all. There is no doubt my fellowship experience is unique to me, as is everyone's. That's the beautiful thing about it; as consistent as the rotations, faculty, research experiences, and high school coverage are made to be, what you make of it is what you take from it!
Patrick O'Sullivan (01-02)
As a young professional, my experience in the Athletic Training field was limited to what I learned from the classroom and from the literature. While searching for employment, I came across the NHMI Fellowship. The description sounded like an invitation to approach the operating table, have a look at the X-ray, sit in with an MD consultation, or even get your hands dirty with a research project. Then when I was chosen, I felt like I had a backstage pass to the world of medicine. The experience itself is organized so that everyone involved expects to have a set of eyes peeking over their shoulder, asking questions about every move they make. My personal favorite was the back of the ambulance, because it had immediate impact on how I handled emergency situations. To this day, I still talk about the hundreds of surgeries, or visits to MD's offices like I was just there. The Fellowship experience is a year of intense learning, in a very unique educational model. I feel honored to be a part of such a hard working group, and have recommended the experience to many driven professionals.
Eric Gattie (04-05)
The NHMI athletic training fellowship changed my life for the better. I could probably go on for hours talking about the fellowship, but I think it all comes down to one thing important thing "Experience." What you learn in school is nothing compared to the amount of different experiences you will have during the year long fellowship. From working for the first time as a Certified athletic trainer, the hundreds of different surgeries, the research opportunities, and the many rotations with medical professionals. Anyone interested in athletic training or moving on into any aspect of the medical field would be extremely lucky to be chosen to have the opportunity to participate in this fellowship. It gave me vast amounts of real and valuable experiences with a wide array of medical professionals. The knowledge gained during that year helps me to make clinical decisions on a daily basis. I still feel very lucky to be chosen, and know I wouldn't be where I am today without the help and guidance from Laura, and the others that touched my life during that year.
Elizabeth Mierendorf (07-08)
I don't know if any college student, the months before graduating from an athletic training program, is truly prepared for the possibilities that will become available. It's a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you almost wish there was only one, just to make it easier on yourself. It's sort of like when you're little and your parents say "you can be anything you want to be." At age 22, I was thinking, Mom and Dad… why couldn't you just TELL me what I should do?! I was scared to death to make the "wrong" choice for my future. That's when fate brought me to the NHMI Fellowship. Personally, all I knew when I was graduating is that I wasn't ready to be "done" with my formal education, and that I had an intense passion for sports medicine. I would argue with myself daily on where I should go from here… PA, PT, GA somewhere, something completely random and unique? The NHMI fellowship was calling my name. Where else, could I gain hands-on experience in pretty much every field related to sports medicine, in just 1 year? As athletic trainers, Laura will agree, we need to know a little bit about basically everything related to health care. That is exactly the basis for the fellowship. I was challenged every hour, and still, I'm almost in shock over what I gained over the year… a huge reservoir of knowledge, and even more importantly, self-discovery.
Sometimes when we're deciding our future (easy right?) it's better to discover what doesn't fit. Having hands-on experience with all types of incredibly talented physicians and mid-levels, amazing physical therapists, chiropractors, EMTs, etc… while it was fascinating, still, none of it seemed to fit me well. At the end of the fellowship, I found myself always going back to one day… the day of our fall symposium. One speaker in particular changed my whole life, and I didn't know it until later. He was an ATC who became an acupuncturist. Crazy right? Of all things. He is now one of my teachers at the New England School of Acupuncture, where I am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. While holistic medicine was always my secret love, I didn't see how it could manifest professionally into something combined with sports medicine. It is challenging every day, and I constantly retrieve lessons I learned during the fellowship… from the specifics of rotator cuff repair and rehab to suspicious looking moles. I am 100% positive that I will use the phrase "well during my fellowship I saw _, [and this is what I learned]" throughout my life. The grand plan now, is to have my very own sports medicine acupuncture clinic, and hopefully, become the acupuncturist of professional and collegiate athletic teams. I found my perfect fit. I feel extraordinarily fortunate that NHMI and I met. I fell in love here, in more than one way. While my story might be a little different, I've always been a different kind of person. ;) If it can reach anyone out there who feels like I did, I will be glad to have shared it. Remember, you get to write your own life story. This is how I am writing mine. The possibilities truly are endless!
Keith Belmore (07-08)
The NHMI Athletic Training Fellowship provided me opportunities to challenge myself academically and clinically. In this unique program I was exposed to areas of medicine and health care I had yet to encounter in my education or graduate assistantship. Having the opportunity to learn from multiple physicians and allied health specialists only strengthened my clinical skills and critical thinking ability. All of the various components of the fellowship from the clinic and high school to the rotations and research provided learning opportunities that fostered my growth in sports medicine. During my time in the Fellowship I was placed in unique situations and settings that allowed me to grow as a young professional. These experiences coupled with the unique responsibility of completing the Fellowship while serving as the Head Certified Athletic Trainer for the Manchester Wolves was the platform for me to become a well rounded and confident athletic trainer and solidified my career aspirations in athletic training. Looking back on my year spent as an NHMI fellow there is no question that the experiences and people I met during this year helped shape me into the athletic trainer I am today. I am truly thankful for the Experience of a Lifetime both professionally and personally.
Lindsay Labore (06-07)
Opportunities are endless. That is how I felt before, during, and after completing the NHMI athletic training fellowship. It is no doubt, one of the greatest experiences that I have encountered in my life so far.
If you want to improve and expand your skills as a clinician, you will. If you want to spend one on one time with physicians in various medical fields, you will. If you want to spend time working with knowledgeable, wonderful physical therapists, you will. I know I did, and that's exactly what I got, plus more. This fellowship allowed me to grow in my personal and professional life as well as build relationships that will last a lifetime. I have valued all of the opportunities that the fellowship came with because I truly believe it has profoundly impacted the person I am today and where my life is headed.
I had a strong desire to become a Physician Assistant before the fellowship, and going through this experience solidified that desire. I will be headed back to school to begin my journey as a PA and could not be happier. However, it also opened up my mind to the many alternative careers and professions there are in the medical field. It truly is amazing what I encountered over the course of one year and how much of that year will stay with me throughout my life!
Tamara Valovich McLeod (98-99)
I can honestly say that without the NHMI Fellowship I would not be in the position that I am in today. After completing a Master's degree in kinesiology, I was looking for a way to get back into athletic training and the Fellowship program allowed me to return to my athletic training roots. During my time as a fellow I was exposed to many diverse healthcare settings and was able to participate in several clinical rotations that allowed me to learn more about other healthcare professions, while teaching others about athletic training. Looking back, I feel the individuals involved with the Fellowship program, especially the research component, were invaluable resources that led me to enroll at University of Virginia in the Doctoral Program in Sports Medicine. The clinical, teaching, and research experiences I gained during my one year as a Fellow have benefited me greatly as a young faculty member and athletic training researcher. I am pleased to say that one of my own students has followed in my footsteps in the program. I would encourage any young athletic trainer to consider expanding their athletic training horizons through the NHMI Fellowship.
Genny Welch (04-05)
I chose to do the fellowship because I was curious as to what else was out there. I had given some thought about going back to school to be a PA and figured this would help me decide if that's what I wanted to do. I learned so much and realized how much I really did love the field of athletic training. There is no where else where you can experience so much in such a short amount of time. Being in the OR and seeing the surgeries makes you much stronger at the rehab side of an injury. One of the things I liked the most was the fact that we were able to work as ATC's at a local high school while also getting additional clinical experience. State football and basketball titles were just an added benefit!!!
Becky (Scanlon) Begalle (02-03)
Huge personal growth is the best way for me to describe my experience as an NHMI athletic training fellow. After college there are so many possibilities to pursue with an athletic training degree. During my year with the institute I met and worked with amazing people, experienced surgeries and areas of medicine that most athletic trainers will never see, gained experience in a biomechanics lab, and further expanded my abilities in an athletic training setting. This fellowship can open doors and create networking opportunities for a lifetime. Honestly, there are daily situations where I draw from some of my experiences to help relate to athletes and to introduce learning experiences for my students. The fellowship is a catapult into whatever you are willing to work for. It builds independence, confidence, and initiative which are invaluable personal traits.
Aaron Copeland (05-06)
The NHMI Athletic Training Fellowship Program provided me with many opportunities for learning and growth as an athletic trainer and as a person. The program exposed me to many areas of medicine. I was able watch many doctors and medical professionals perform a variety of evaluations and office procedures. I was able to watch over 50 different surgical procedures ranging from fracture fixation and total joint replacements to brain surgery and open heart surgery. Not only were these experiences amazing and extremely interesting, they have helped me to sharpen my own clinical skills as well as make important decisions about my future. In addition, spending a year in Manchester was outstanding. I was able to enjoy hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, the beach, watch local minor league ice hockey and baseball games, and explore New England.
Kevin Horn (02-03)
I can't say enough about the athletic training fellowship offered by NHMI. The fellowship gave me the opportunity to participate in research at the University of New Hampshire, and develop my leadership & organizational skills by hosting two educational conferences. Thru the fellowship's well-planned mix of rotations and work at the high school and a local physical therapy clinic I was exposed to a wide variety of medical fields that I would not have had access to otherwise. Participating in this unique post-graduate experience helped me focus my goals and made me realize that I wanted to continue on with my own education. Besides all of the professional benefits NHMI offers, it gave me the opportunity to explore a new part of the country, make friends and gain a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. Special thanks to Laura Decoster and Dr. James Vailas for an unforgettable year and all of the hard work that they put into making this fellowship possible.
Melissa (Reinemman) Manus (96-97)
The athletic training fellowship is a great opportunity for any athletic trainer looking to improve themselves as a professional. Diverse and informative rotations allow you to build your knowledge base and skills as well as have first-hand exposure to a variety of other health professionals that an athletic trainer may need to interact with at some point during their career. Also the time spent in the clinic and on the playing field gave me the chance to strengthen my evaluation and diagnostics abilities as well as refine my rehabilitation skills and techniques. The research component helped to build academic strength as well. This allowed me to become a more well-rounded professional and open the door to other career opportunities in the sports medicine field. Even after the fellowship was completed I still have benefited from the professional relationships developed along the way. This community of friends and professionals has continued to offer support and mentorship in my present career.
Mac Hall (01-02)
I had no problem getting my CPR certification. My technique was great and my timing was in perfect rhythm. CPR is easy! And when a nurse asked me if I was going to do compressions on a real person who had coded, I wanted to hide in a storage closet! I didn't, I put on some gloves and pushed on that man's chest for what seemed like two hours (in reality, it was only 90 seconds). It was scary, and no amount of theory or practice on a mannequin can prepare you for that moment. College teaches you a lot about how things work and what you should do in certain situations, but books and lecturers only give you part of the picture. When you finally experience the things you've studied, only then can you really know and understand them. The New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute offers you experiences like that daily. Some things you only see once, but it prepares you should it ever happen again, so you learn from it and next time can do it better. And the things we, as A.T.,C.'s, see a lot of, NHMI offers an abundance of hands-on, practical experiences, so you get really good at managing and treating them. This benefits you, your team, and your patients. Books prepare you for the things you will experience, but NHMI lets you experience the things you will experience!