Championing Organizational Change & Leadership in Sports Medicine
Tucked into the north end of Tacoma, Washington is the University of Puget Sound, home of the Loggers. Serving 21 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports teams, Puget Sound has four athletic trainers on staff to care for its student-athletes. The Logger tradition is one of excellence, having won over 40 conference championships since 1999. When Craig Bennett, MA, LAT, ATC, joined Puget Sound, he brought over a decade of experience including his educational background in Organizational Leadership.
As Puget Sound Athletics continued to grow, Bennett questioned if there was a more efficient way to manage first-year and returning student-athletes at the start of each sports season. Two things were top of mind for Bennett as he began his work at Puget Sound - improving the intake flow for these athletes and incorporating baseline testing in a more efficient manner.
When thinking about the best way to manage athlete care when considering baseline testing and sideline evaluations, Bennett stated, “In the last few years I’ve been in the process with our team physician to ask the question ‘Do we really need all of that?’ to be as thorough and efficient as possible - and so we’ve been investigating that. We wanted to know - was there enough information somewhere that we would be okay if we minimized and stopped using so many different tests and products that we’d been comfortable with for the last seventeen years and began using another platform that met the standards of quality that we were accustomed to?”
This important question led Bennett and his medical staff to begin the search for a way to not only keep their standards high but to find the most efficient way to accomplish their goal.
This led Bennett’s team to the Sway platform. Bennett was one of the first users of the Sway platform, starting his journey in 2013. Since Puget Sound’s first season with Sway, they’ve been able to grow with the platform as it continues to develop new features that have allowed Bennett’s team to increase efficiency and continue to provide the best care for their athletes.
Simplifying Athlete Pre-Season Intake
The COVID-19 pandemic showed Bennett just how valuable virtual options have become over traditional pen-and-paper exams for baseline screening. “During the pandemic, we went to a virtual health screening with our athletes. It’s so much quicker and more efficient, especially with our first-year athletes. Once they’ve submitted their physical exam, they move ahead and do their in-person Sway test as soon as they arrive to campus,” said Bennett. The Puget Sound team has become efficient enough with pre-season health screenings that they are now easily managing the baseline testing of 50 athletes in a single session.
Sideline Evaluation Efficiency
That’s not the only benefit that Puget Sound has found since implementing the Sway platform. Bennett and his team, wanting to stay in line with their goal of quality care, utilize the VOMS test on the Sway platform in a post-injury setting. With the metronome and target built directly into the mobile application, the Puget Sound team loves the ability to quickly complete VOMS assessments with their athletes and track trends of symptom provocation over time. This aspect is particularly useful for objective near-point convergence measurements.
With efficiency always on the brain, Bennett noted, “I really like the ability to quickly generate a report. I can easily add my reports to our EMR, and I’ve been able to send reports to physicians outside of our plan of care. They were very happy with the type of information included in the reports, especially over the course of some of our more complicated or longer-term injuries.”
Championing Change & Best Practices
Being a champion of change is never easy, yet Bennett has continued his crusade for more efficient, quality care throughout his career, even serving as a coordinator for the Washington State Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (WSATA) Concussion Symposium programs. Since joining Puget Sound, Bennett has also received the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Excellence in Leadership Award (2016), NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award (2012), NWATA New Horizon Award (2012), University of Puget Sound Excellence in Action Award (2011) and the WSATA Excellence in Service Award (2011).
The Puget Sound Sports Medicine team continues to find new ways to improve every year. “We’ve figured out how to make Sway even more efficient for our evaluations. If you have somebody that needs to repeat one component, such as their balance or reaction time, you can just repeat that part of the test. It saves so much time when they’ve already been doing well on other parts of the test. I love the variability,” said Bennett. “It’s so easy. The other day at a football game, I entered an injury event, did a quick voice dictation, and then was quickly able to start the sideline evaluation and get a symptoms score. We’ve been using Sway for a while and just keep leaning into its full capabilities. It’s been good for us.”