🔥Upside Chat: Dr. Jeff Konin, Clinical Professor & Director of the Doctor of Athletic Training program at FIU, on his program and post careers for Athletic Trainers
This week we had the honor to interview Dr. Jeff Konin who currently serves as Clinical Professor and the Director of the Doctor of Athletic Training program at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. He is also a founding partner and owner of The Rehberg Konin Group, and also is founder/owner of Konin Consulting, LLC.
📝Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on his background as well as his program (The Doctor of Athletic program) at the Florida International University. (FIU) We also discussed the benefits to enroll to his program and how his program can help athletic trainers advance their careers. He also shared his experience on athletic trainers can transition out of the world of elite sports and start their post career such as launching their own consultancy and much more.
🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Dr Konin:
On his background:
“So the majority of my background is in the discipline of sports medicine. It involves being a certified athletic trainer and a licensed physical therapist for the early part of my career. I was very much involved in the clinic setting and then I migrated over to hybrid roles where I was also teaching and working in the clinical setting at various levels and various settings”.
“And then I completed my PhD in 2004. And from there, I transitioned into a faculty role of teaching and research. But I was also keeping my hands tied closely to the clinical setting and those working within the clinical setting so that the work that I did in the academic setting had some translation that was practical and helpful for those still in the clinical settings”.
On the Doctor of Athletic program that he is running at the Florida International University:
“Our program is a couple of years old and there's only a handful of doctor of athletic training programs in the United States (…) Our doctor of athletic training degree focuses on leadership in a number of different areas, particularly pertaining to entrepreneurial leadership, global or international, and even academic leadership”.
On how he looked for inputs from athletic trainers to help evolve his program:
“We sought the input of many athletic trainers who are practicing and said, what are your concerns? And if you could change those and improve the situation that you're in, what would that involve?”.
“Very few people answered us that they lacked the clinical with the advanced clinical competencies. What they were typically concerned about was the ability to advance in the profession, to have their value recognized to increase their wages and their opportunities, and to have a better overall quality of life”.
“So, so that's why we designed our program in such a way that we realized that it's the intangible skills of leadership to identify opportunities in this world, not just in your own setting, even within your own profession, but to expand those skill sets that will truly enhance the recognition that the value that one has as an athletic trainer and create more opportunities”.
On making sure that his program helps his students achieve their personal goals:
“ We recently did a survey online, a very informal scientific survey, and we asked people: Why would you not pursue a Doctorate? And 44% of the respondents said, “because there's no return on the investment”.
“But I promise you that if you have a conversation with myself or my colleague, Dr. Matt Kutz, we will make sure to learn about your goals. If these goals can tailor into our specific program, I promise you that you will have a return on your investment almost immediately because we'll show you skillsets that you have and knowledge you have that you didn't realize you had”.
On the typical profile of athletic trainers who join his program:
“I think that if there's one way to sum up the typical people, it's that those that are hungry for more. It's as simple as that because look at the demographics of our program. We have students of all diverse backgrounds, ethnic men, culturally, gender wise, geographically, job setting”.
“We have individuals from clinical settings to secondary schools, to colleges to professional sports. And so we have had individuals who are literally two months out of their graduate master's. And we also had a graduate last year who completed the degree at 67. And so that's why I said that we have an incredibly diverse program that specializes to the needs of the individual”.
On Marco Nunez, one of his students, who is the former head athletic trainers for the LA Lakers (NBA):
“Marco is out in Southern California. He was a former athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Lakers and many other organizations. But Marco pivoted, which is very popular in our program because when you're entrepreneurial and you're seeking ideas, you have to be ready to change and meet those opportunities”.
“And so Marco has created a very successful consulting operation in the area of performance. This company is called Evolve Athletic Performance, and that's one of the things that we do. So whether individuals want to create a side opportunity or completely change and operate their own enterprise to better understand everything from the startup standpoint, to the marketing, to the analytics, to the business side of the revenues and the expenses side of things”.
On how his program can help athletic trainers enter the next phase of their careers:
“Sometimes people can launch something (e.g. consulting business) like this within the first year of the program. This is why I say the letters aren't magic. When you cross a stage in two years and have a DAT (Doctorate of Athletic Training), you can start to generate these business revenues within a year. Other people have very grandiose ideas in the business. They're starting”.
“So we help them get to the launching point. But businesses don't always become successful for three to five years at best. And so from that standpoint, we have individuals who have built a solid foundation to launch their next career steps. And so everybody's on a different trajectory in our program, and it's also part of the beauty of it”.
On how it can sometimes be hard for athletic trainers to transition out of the world of elite sports and launch their own consultancy:
“That's an understatement. In that case, the athletic trainer could be compared to the athlete. Your identity of who you are is affiliated with that role that you have. And so when you've worked your lifetime to get there, and then it changes and you're no longer recognized because of the title you have, you don't have the same access and resources sometimes and you have to start all over again”.
“And it doesn't mean that you're not skilled or qualified. It requires an understanding and a reflection of what needs to change. And Marco is similar to actually a number of other individuals in our program and many people in our profession. Working in the world of professional sports is working in an environment that is not guarantee”.
“And some athletic trainers can make a life and a career out of it and others can't for various reasons, whether it's in their control or not. But it is important to understand that it's not a bad thing, it's just a change of a direction”.
On how they have helped Marco Nunez with his new consulting business:
“For example, from Marco's standpoint, he was a top notch and still is a top notch clinician and performance expert. We worked with Marco on a lot of things. One of those things was the branding of his business and the side of the business. And he's been a great student learner”.
“Relative to this, Marco realized that it's actually not a different work compared to when he was doing when he was working full time with the Lakers. It is a grind and he's working all different hours and he's still traveling, quite frankly, to meet the needs of his clients. But he's learned how to pivot and he's done a great job and he continues to do so. It's a learning process”.
On how they teach athletic trainers to better manage their personal life finances:
“We teach things in our entrepreneurial program all the way from personal life finances. So if you're able to understand your take home pay and once you put put towards investments and retirements and flexible medical benefits and child daycares and things like that, you are letting your take home pay in a better way”.
“Our goal then is to increase their take home pay by educating them on the resources that they already have as benefits and how to leverage those to the best of their abilities”.
On how they teach athletic trainers how institutions work:
“Another example is when we teach them how institutions work. So imaging that they are working in a certain setting such as a private practice, and they are looking to increase their salary. How can they demonstrate their value to their employer? Because I am certain that any employer would happily have some kind of profit sharing, even if it's a small amount to an employee who brings ideas forward that can help the bottom line for the company increase their revenue and teach individuals regardless of the setting that they're in”.
“How can you demonstrate that? That you're either helping the institution with cost savings in an important, meaningful way or revenue generation in such a way that you should be recognized and credited through evaluations, quarterly, semi-annual, annual, whichever you're proposing, so that you can demonstrate your value and not just complain about it”.
On how they help athletic trainers showcase the impact they are having on the business in various ways:
“As recent as this week, we've seen professional athletic trainers being let go from their jobs because they had high injury rates within their team and they were compared to others in the league. And they performed the lowest. Now we know that some of that is out of their control, but nonetheless we teach them to identify the right metrics”.
“How can you best influence these metrics? How can you create other metrics that are really important for you to demonstrate your value and if you're gonna be let go when you're on the lower side?”.
“We teach athletic trainers to understand that a school is part of a school district. So it's part of a private school consortium and they have overall goals. Well, the larger scale goals might not relate directly to athletic training or injury prevention, rehab. They might be things such as absenteeism being reduced, or things such as improved nutrition and reduction of obesity, improved mental health awareness. So how can you, in your job that you do every day tie into improving those goals?”.
On his advice to any trainers looking to potentially join his program:
“So my advice is to educate yourself more about specific programs. Again, as I mentioned before, all the DAT programs are different, and depending on what your goals are, you're right, maybe a certain program will not provide for you a return of your investments”.
“But if your goals match what most others are that we talk to, and that is you'd like to learn more money in your pocket, how to create more opportunities, how to be more valued in your environment or elsewhere and grow and expand, then reach out to myself. My email is email@example.com or you can follow me and message me on Twitter at Dr. Konin.”.
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