Christopher Brown, PhD, LAT, ATC, CSCS, OPE-C, is a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Clinical Coordinator for the undergraduate Athletic Training and Doctor of Athletic Training programs at the University of Florida. After becoming an athletic trainer (AT), Brown enjoyed his teaching experiences while working at a clinic and decided he needed a doctorate to further his career in athletic training and in academia.
He enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Athletic Training program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) to meet those career aspirations.
Education for Athletic Trainers
When Brown was looking for a doctorate program, he was living in Kansas, where there weren’t any doctoral programs that would allow him to continue working full time. Then he discovered RMUoHP’s program, where the majority of the coursework was online. But it wasn’t just its convenience, said Brown. “RMU had a new reputation but a good reputation. Its strength is that the program can target experts in the field for teaching, and not every graduate program can do that.”
While in the PhD program, Brown grew to understand how the academic workplace functions. “It was interesting how some of the academic aspects function differently than athletics,” explained Brown.
The PhD also gave him more experience with teaching. “The more you teach the better you are,” said Brown. “The program at RMUoHP helped me understand that there’s a process for developing courses and having students learn materials and helped me be able to develop new techniques for different types of students.”
A Career in AT Education
After graduating with his PhD, Brown took a full-time faculty position at the University of Mississippi. He worked there for three years and then, with his family, decided it was a good time to look around. A job opened up at the University of Florida, which he applied for and was hired. He has worked there for four years now.
For Brown, his doctoral program made a big impact on where he ended up. “You learn how to be a better instructor and the degree from RMUoHP allowed me to get into the high-level academic positions that I wanted to get into,” said Brown.
Brown said his education also gave him a broader perspective on the AT profession. “I’ve been able to see the profession as part of the healthcare system, as well as see it with an outside lens rather than just from within the profession,” he explained.
Pursuing an AT Career
The AT profession “is a big service organization. ATs serve the community and help protect peoples’ lives when they’re active. AT is a vital role in the community for the facilitation of the medical team as a whole with our patients. ATs assist with early identification of emergency conditions and help athletes return to participation from injury.”
For those interested in the AT profession or already in the AT profession, Brown says it’s important to know what your end goal is. “What type of place do you want to work? What is your ideal setting? Do you want to further your clinical skills or do you want to get into academics? If into academia, do you want to work in a research institution or a smaller private college? Different types of schools and degree programs will help you achieve those different goals.” Brown adds that it’s important to focus on career goals throughout the whole process. “While in an education program, focus your education on your career goals and take the steps to get toward your end goal as part of your education.”
For more information about the PhD in Health Sciences-Athletic Training program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, visit their website.