The DCU Programme

The Athletic Therapy and Training clinical education is embedded within clinical placements from the second through to the final years of the degree programme. Students are given the opportunity very early in their education to apply their recently acquired theoretical and practical skills and knowledge within clinical placements. One such clinical placement is our Student Led Clinic. This clinic runs on a daily basis and provides an injury assessment service to the wider university community. Students are exposed to genuine, real life injuries and are given the opportunity to assess, clinically reason and diagnose injuries within a realistic clinical environment. The Student Led Clinic draws on peer-learning and supervision to assist in a supportive framework for feedback and development. A scaffolded approach to clinical duties allows students of higher years within the programme to be tasked with more demanding duties, to encourage challenge based learning that is appropriate for their level of knowledge and competence. A complimentary Rehabilitation Clinic runs alongside the Student Led Clinic to allow final year students to practice treatment, rehabilitation and injury management strategies on genuine injuries. This provides a very effective learning opportunity for students to refine their injury management competencies, stressing their ability to address problem lists, goal setting and physical literacy with their respective patients.

Another key aspect of clinical placements within the programme is Team Placements. Students are assigned to various teams through each semester from second through to final year. Throughout the duration of the programme, students will get exposure to various sports (Gaelic games, soccer, rugby, athletics, field hockey, dance, etc.), genders and levels of competition. This aspect of clinical placement allows the students to draw on their emergency care and acute injury management abilities. It is also a great opportunity for the students to work within a multi-disciplinary team environment. Students are encouraged to immerse themselves in pre-training preparations (taping, stretching, soft tissue therapies, etc.), warm-up and activation implementation, injury surveillance and management, cool-down implementation, and pitch-side rehabilitation programme supervision. The students are often the lead Athletic Therapist within these teams, giving them a sense of value and importance within the group, and allowing them to establish themselves as reliable and indispensable members of various sporting teams.

One final aspect of clinical placement within the programme is the Clinical Experience placement that takes places in the final year of the programme. This is an immersive 3-4 month clinical experience that takes place either nationally or internationally, depending on the preference of the student. International placements facilitate final year students to travel to the USA, Australia or the UK typically, and allows them to become engrossed within a multi-disciplinary sports medicine team at a high performance setting. Within the USA, students are placed with other universities so that they can experience the Athletic Training profession within sports that they may not otherwise have had exposure to previously (American Football, wrestling, lacrosse, ice-hockey, etc.). The level of professionalism and standard of facilities provides the students with an incredible experience. A strong support network of staff allows the students to refine their theoretical and practical skills, and to learn new techniques and injury management strategies. Students travelling to Australia or the UK will often be placed with a professional team (rugby, soccer, Australian Rules Football). Similar to the USA, these clinical placement sites facilitate a wholesome multi-disciplinary approach to Athletic Therapy within a professional environment. Some students may opt to stay closer to home, and their placements take place within private practice clinics and with various sports teams simultaneously. Being placed within a private practice allows the students to work closely with highly qualified experts within the field of Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy. The students draw on the clinical attributes of their supervisors, but it this type of placement can be particularly beneficial to students who may be striving to set up their own practice, as it gives them a valuable insight into the day-to-day operations of a clinic, how a business operates, marketing strategies, patient retention and continuous professional development. The immersive clinical experience placement is a significant milestone for final year students, allowing them to polish many of their previously learned competencies, but also builds towards their clinical independence. It is an extremely valuable aspect of the degree programme.

Hannah Stewart, Graduate of DCU Athletic Therapy and Training 2021

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“I had an incredible 4 years in Dublin City University on the ATT programme. Throughout my degree, I gained invaluable experience in supervised student-led musculoskeletal assessment and rehabilitation clinics, as well as pitchside placements with collegiate level GAA and soccer teams. The emphasis that was placed on the importance of evidence-based practice and thorough clinical reasoning in all of the programme modules was critical to my learning.

The small class size and the high level of professionalism and expertise of the programme staff was extremely beneficial as I developed a network of fellow AT’s before I even graduated and had the opportunity to learn from highly experienced Irish athletic therapists. The in depth exposure to acute and chronic musculoskeletal and sports injuries, along with emergency situations at such an early stage in my career was a platform to my development as a clinician. This has led me to my work now with senior inter-county GAA, elite academy level soccer and in private practice. As a recent graduate from the programme, I am proud to call myself a Certified Athletic Therapist and will be forever grateful for the opportunities, encouragement and memories during the ATT programme.”

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Laura Power (2020 graduate) on placement at volleyball practice in Purdue University

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Students Aaron Conconnan, Sara Finnie, Elaine McDermott, Ciara Milliea, Marion Farrelly, Ellie Boyce and Aoibheann Byrne (2020 graduates) who were on placement at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.

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Barry Gorman (2021 graduate) on placement in the University of Pittsburgh.