Kristina Burk

Year of Graduation: 2014

Major(s): Nutrition  Minor(s): Exercise Science

Current position: Athletic Trainer, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD, Master of Science, Athletic Training, College of St. Scholastica, ESPN Wide World of Sports


Please give a brief description of your graduate program and internship: I received a master of science degree in athletic training from The College of St. Scholastica.  This program is designed to help get students ready to be Athletic Trainers and handle all the demands of the job. There is a combination of class lectures, labs working on development of hands-on skills, and clinical experiences working with Certified Athletic Trainers and sports teams in the area.

The summer between my first and second year of graduate school, I had an internship at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Disney World.  Our job was to provide medical coverage and care at the facilities to all the teams traveling in to play. We covered sports including soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, football, wrestling and jump roping. There were teams from all over the world and I got to meet and interact with a lot of people.

What path did you follow to consider getting a graduate degree in this area? I have been around sports since I was about five years old and I absolutely loved it. I continued to play soccer at CSB and during my first year, I had a pretty severe injury and needed to spend a lot of time in the Athletic Training room with Erin and Julie, athletic training staff at CSB. During that time I realized they had cool jobs that involved being around sports and helping athletes perform at their best. For the next three years I worked in the Athletic Training room and realized that this was the job I wanted to have for the rest of my lfie.  I talked to athletic training staff about what I needed to do to become an Athletic Trainer and started wokring towards that goal.

What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career? If you are thinking about a career in athletic training, you need to get involved with it.  Talk to the athletic trainers at CSB and SJU; they are great resources to have and talk to about the career. Try getting a job in the athletic training room at CSB/SJU and see if you actually like the work that needs to be done.  This is a time consuming and demanding profession and it is important to understand the demands ahead of time.

What skills are important for your field? Besides all the hands-on skills necessary to become an Athletic Trainer, it is important to have good communication skills, be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time, and be someone athletes, parents and coaches trust and feel comfortable talking to as they deal with their injury and recovery.

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your graduate program/internship? Working with the athletes is a lot of fun and I really enjoy being around sports every day. It is always really rewarding when you help an athlete return to play after an injury.

Most challenging? Balancing clinical experiences with class, homework, studying, and having a personal life. There is a lot of moving parts that go into this program and and it is difficult to balance everything all the time without getting overwhlemed at times. At ESPN Wide World of Sports, the most challenging part was taking care of multiple people at once and figuring out who needed help first and who could wait a few minutes.

What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career? Working in the Athletic Training room at CSB with the athletic trainers was a great experience and helped more than I could ever put into words. I also had an internship with the HEAT Program at St. Cloud Orthopedics, which was a great experience. On the academic side of things, classes in ESSS (Exercise Science and Sport Studies) and nutrition provided the necessary background knowledge and prepared me for the demands and rigor of my graduate classes. I also did an undergraduare research project in the nutrition department which was one of the best things I could have done to prepare myself for graduate school and set me apart from other applicants.

(January 2017)