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Sport Medicine Programs in the Coachella Valley

The Healthcare Industry Council (HIC) is one of three industry councils facilitated by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP). The primary goal for the HIC is to invite business leaders in the field of health care to help shape the course of career specific learning. Ultimately, the HIC efforts connect the appropriate people from the community, business and education to mentor and help prepare students to be successful in college, career and life. 

The Sports Medicine Work Group was developed to bring career awareness to the HIC. Local leaders in the community participate in this work group through a speaker series, advising health academy students and leadership on curriculum, sharing knowledge of the rapidly changing health care environment, and facilitating work-based learning opportunities for students interested in sports medicine careers.

The Palm Springs High School Academy For Learning Medicine (PALM) is a great example of how this works locally. PALM offers students the opportunity to study allied health careers. Academic courses integrate health-related concepts into the approved curriculum. Career Technical Education courses allow students to develop hands-on skills and receive certifications. High school students then continue their education at the post-secondary level in pursuit of their health care career. 

Many of the PALM students are also involved with the sports medicine program, where they get “hands-on experience” working with high school athletes under the direction of Michael Ventura, a certified athletic trainer and CTE instructor with PALM. One of the specialty fields in the allied health career path is athletic training. Certified athletic trainers are considered a valuable member of the sports medicine team, specializing in athletic injury management at all levels. While they are considered by several notable medical authorities to be “the most appropriate professional to manage the concussed athlete,” certified athletic trainers are seldom seen in high schools throughout California, as California is the ONLY state that does not have licensure or title protection for certified athletic trainers. Consequently, those who live, work and play sports in the state have little knowledge or understanding about this career – or who is taking care of their children.

This presents a statewide health issue of utmost concern since there has been an alarming rise in concussions among young athletes. It is estimated that 3.8 million concussions occur each year in the U S as a result of sport and physical activity (NATA 2014). The rate of concussion among high school athletes has more than doubled between 2005 and 2012, the trend likely due to increased awareness and more legislation (Journal of Sports Medicine 2014).

The Sports Medicine Work Group is developing an “Alliance for Sports Medicine Professionals” which will be vetted and approved by the HIC and shared with each high school’s health academy, staff, athletic officials and parents. Professionals who are part of this alliance will become more actively involved in each health academy as advisors, and share their expertise on hot topics in sports medicine and sports safety for high school athletes. Once high school officials and parents become aware of the need, the allied health care workforce will start to establish a better supply of sports medicine professionals to care for all athletes.

For more information on how to get involved with the HIC Sports Medicine work group, please contact Patty Curtiss, Athletic Health Advocacy, pcurtisssporthealth@gmail.com or Donna Sturgeon, CVEP Health Industry Council, Donna@cvep.com.

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