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Volunteer Spotlight: Pacific University’s Athletic Training Program

Pacific University and Special Olympics Oregon team up!

Pacific University, located in Forest Grove, is a diverse learning community and many groups have partnered with Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) over the years. They have a unified sports team, faculty and students have volunteered for Healthy Athletes and clubs have supported the local program. Our partnership has grown to new heights over the past few years as we’ve teamed up with the Athletics Training Program.

It started with a few students from the Physician’s Assistant program volunteering at a few SOOR athletics events. Dr. Jeffrey Kawaguchi, Director and Professor, of the Athletics Training Program, realized the value for the students and reached out to SOOR sports staff to inquire about expanding the opportunity. The mutual benefits of this partnership were quickly realized and a plan was put into action.

Led by Dr. Kawaguchi and Dr. Jessica Moore, Assistant Professor, students from the Athletic Training Program volunteer to provide medical services at SOOR athletic events in the metro and surrounding areas. There is always a lead professor in attendance and students are scheduled in 2 – 3 hour shifts to allow the maximum number of students to have this experience. Dr. Kawaguchi states that this experience “gives the students real world experience at working with injured populations and allows them to work in situations that they’ll experience in their careers.”

Another advantage for the students from the Athletic Training Dept is that they have the opportunity to work with other health professionals. Students from the Physician Assistants and Physical Therapy departments are invited to also volunteer. The Athletic Training students invite the students from other disciplines so this puts them in a leadership role, which adds to their education and experience. Also, there is a program requirement to accumulate interprofessional hours and this is a great platform to meet that need.

What about the students?

They love volunteering in this role because they are providing a community service in a real-world situation and it allows them to work with populations not routinely thought of with Athletics Training. As students check out at the end of their shift, they are always smiling and sharing that this is a fun and rewarding experience.

What about the benefits for SOOR?

We receive professional medical assistance at athletic events pro bono! Pacific University medical team members not only provide basic first aid response and support in case of injury or illness, they also help with preventative treatments such as taping an ankle or wrapping a wrist before competition. “This collaboration between Special Olympics Oregon and Pacific University is ideal in that it meets important needs for everyone involved. Having future practitioners get first-hand experience with individuals with intellectual disabilities will enable them to better understand and serve our athletes when they go onto to their careers in health care,” explained Mark Hanken, Special Olympics Oregon Chief Operating Officer.

Thank you to the students and professors in the Athletic Training Program! You’re the best!