February AT of the Month - Mary Kate Turner ~ Manitoba Athletic Therapists Association

February AT of the Month - Mary Kate Turner

Mary Kate Turner, C.A.T. (c), RT (orthopaed), B.P.E.

Mary completed her Bachelor of Physical Education at the University of Manitoba in 1987. Gord Mackie was the head Athletic Therapist at the University while Mary studied there. She played Bison volleyball for one year and had the opportunity to see what an Athletic Therapist did. In those years, football was the only sport that had dedicated athletic therapy staff (imagine!). A visit to Gord’s clinic, and the “Human Anatomy” course complete with cadaveric examination, convinced Mary to switch to therapy over teaching as a career.

Mary started as a physiotherapy aid at Pan Am Clinic shortly after graduating from university. Meeting Bruce Marshall, C.A.T.(c), convinced her that Athletic Therapy was the profession for her. Mary completed her certification in athletic therapy in 1991. She was extremely fortunate to have had Stan Szumlak, Bruce Marshall and Phil Rizzuto as her athletic therapy educational mentors at Pan Am. Their knowledge and experience, combined with that of the sports medicine physicians practicing at Pan Am, provided for the best learning.

Mary has worked at Pan Am Clinic since 1987. The clinic has moved from private to public ownership. The number of physicians has grown from 4 to 28, including large growth in the percentage of orthopaedic and plastic surgeons. This growth was accompanied by an increase in demand for more acute injury management via casting and splinting.

Mary registered as an Orthopaedic Technologist (RT orthopaed) in 1998 under the guidance of Warren Froese, MD, FRCSC. Mary has helped 8 additional AT’s attain this registration for work at Pan Am and other facilities. She has been the president of the Manitoba Society of Orthopaedic Technologists (28 members) since 2006. She continues to be involved in the teaching and advancement of this allied health care group.

Mary worked with the Winnipeg Fury soccer club between the years 1990-1992. The team won the Mita Cup in 1992 and in 2008 were inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. They were also recipients of the “Order of the Buffalo Hunt” as presented by then Premier of Manitoba, Gary Filmon.
Mary served as the field hockey venue medical lead for the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. This event saw teams from 8 countries compete. The experience of helping to co-ordinate medical care via planning and attending meetings for 2 years leading up to the games was of great value.
Mary served on the MATA BOD from 1991-1997 and is a past president of the association (1995 -1997). She has respect for any and all who volunteer their time and efforts to help with the planning that benefits all members of the association.

In 2011 Mary completed a Certificate in Health Services Leadership and Management at Red River Community College. Mary has held a nil salaried appointment with the department of family medicine at the University of Manitoba since 2010. She has had the opportunity to help the educational process of health care professionals from medicine, athletic therapy, nurse practioners, physician assistants and the high school medical careers exploration program (MCEP). 

1.    I became an Athletic Therapist because the profession allowed for me to continue to be involved in Athletics. Having come from a physical education degree, and a physically active lifestyle, Athletic Therapy represented the perfect opportunity to pursue meaningful work in an environment I loved.

2.    I am most proud of many things, but 3 stand out:
•    Being the athletic therapist for 2 National Champion Teams; Winnipeg Fury Men’s Soccer, 1992, and Winnipeg Storm Women’s Broomball, 1996
•    Co-ordinating a National Athletic Therapy conference with co-chair Dale Stewart in 1997 during the “Flood of the Century”. The conference was organized, booked, cancelled due to flood fears and re-booked six weeks after the original planned date. We managed to keep most of the registrants, all of the speakers, and the event did not lose money.
•    Being an active member of such a caring and multi-skilled professional association for almost 24 years. CATA recent data obtained through membership statistics that stated our average practitioner has 7 years of involvement in the association. It is an honour to help teach new members in any way I can. Thank you to all of the students who choose Pan Am as one of their clinical placement commitments.

3.    As a certified athletic therapist/registered orthopaedic technologist I am able to help with patient education, treatment and care at Pan Am Clinic. I have access to share discussion regarding best patient practice and care with sports medicine physicians, orthopaedic surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists and other athletic therapists. Pan Am embraces the “Team approach” to patient care and athletic therapy has been a partner in this mix since the clinics inception. We also play a role in professional awareness at Pan Am. Patients ask us every day “what an athletic therapist is”. We educate them.

4.    I would like to see the profession of athletic therapy legislated under the provincial health care umbrella. I see us as a member group of the MAHRC.  I believe this is the key to securing the future of athletic therapy as a valid and mutually respected health care discipline in the province of Manitoba.

5.    Keep yourself open to opportunities. If you look at the current membership, you will see there are many chances to work in roles that value and utilize your athletic therapy background. Value it yourself. Continue to give of your time, even after you are certified. My own role models are those individuals who work full time hours, yet still find the time to cover team sports, work towards member goals/good through board of director terms, or provide educational support to others. This is a large part of the proud history of what it means to be an Athletic Therapist.

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