By: Ryan Clark, AT Student & Marisa Colston, PhD, ATC
A ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ is one who has a dual personality that alternates between phases of good and bad behavior (www.merriam-webster.com). Every component of athletic training is people-oriented. Risk management and injury prevention, clinical examination, acute and chronic injury care, therapeutic exercise, nutrition, psychosocial intervention, and many other aspects in the AT job description all require effective communication skills. The wheels of the athletic medicine bus can fall off when a Jekyll and Hyde personality exists among the healthcare team. You know that person, the one who you never know who you are going to get from day-to-day, so you tip-toe around gingerly, hoping to avoid the wrath. This is the individual who thinks that the ‘golden rule’ is something to be mocked at, when things do not go his or her way. Unpredictable behavior of this nature often interferes with trust (by colleagues, AT students, and athletes) and can substantially interfere with the effective delivery of health care.
Certainly, the profession of athletic training is not for the faint of heart. The world of sport competition is filled with extreme pressures to perform which can have a negative impact on all individuals working within the system. Developing a thick skin is a must, but tolerating belligerent outbursts from people of power is an abuse and should not be accepted or condoned (either actively or passively). Simply because someone can get away with abusing his or her power demonstrated through a lack of self-control, does not make it right. An AT must learn to be flexible to work with all different kinds of personalities, and approach each individual and situation with professionalism, respect, confidence, and a positive attitude. Compromising one’s ethical standards; however, should not be part of the employment agreement.
Although many disagree with this philosophy, a career, athletic training, should be what you do, not who you are. Who you are and the moral compass that guides you should govern your career. Are you the same person, both in an out of the work-setting? If not, why? Is it difficult to treat people in the work setting with the same kindness that you would a friend or family member? If so, again, why? Consistency is paramount in establishing trust and a good rapport. We all have bad days and say or do things that should not have been said or done, so we need to embrace forgiveness. Be unyielding in your ethical standards, be consistent, be approachable. At the end of the day, it’s not about perspective or opinion, but the uncompromised welfare of the athlete. We all cringe when having to work with a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Don’t be one of them!