In Focus: Mike McCristall
Tell us a little bit about your internship experience at Professional Sports and Orthopedic in Garden City.
Professional PT is a great facility; it gives you the opportunity to observe how athletic trainers function in a physical therapy office, because Professional employs quite a few athletic trainers in many different capacities. Some just work in the clinic, some do what's called high school outreach where they provide athletic training services for a local high school, some work in marketing, some work as personal trainers in the performance center in the back of the building, etc.
What are the day-to-day tasks you perform at your internship?
At Professional, they let me do a lot of the things that a certified athletic trainer can do, with the exception that it has to be under the supervision of my clinical instructor or one of the other PT's or AT's. Some of the things I usually do are get hot packs and ice for patients, stretching, correcting patients form during exercises, and bringing patients through their exercises and routine. I also do what's called manual therapy which includes massage and joint mobilizations which is when you manipulate joints in a certain way to reduce pain and get more range of motion.
How do you think this practical internship experience will help you get a job following graduation?
I'm learning new techniques in manual therapy and tweaking how I think about rehabilitation based on what I see. You can tell when someone knows what they're talking about, and the people I work with on a daily basis obviously do, so I'm just keeping my ears open, asking questions, and getting involved as much as I can. I'm confident what I learn will help me to communicate with future employers and colleagues about how I would handle different situations and why.
Why did you choose to get into athletic training?
I got into athletic training because I knew I wasn't the type of person to go to work everyday in a suit and work at a desk. I love being outside, I love moving around and being active, I'm really interested in how the body works, and probably most importantly I get a lot of joy from helping people. I love the feeling when you show someone a stretch or some kind of treatment and see their face light up when it lessens their pain. Also what sealed it for me was that my uncle told me that your profession should be something that you would do even if you weren't getting paid for it. And now that many of my friends and family know what I'm learning, I find myself giving out my fair share of free health care advice.
Tell us about your experience being on Hofstra’s Cross Country team for the past four years and what you have enjoyed about being a student-athlete.
The cross country team is my family at Hofstra. When I came in as a freshman, I automatically had 25 or so friends, and that really helps with the college transition. Competing at the division I level for four years with the group of people I did is something I wouldn't give up for anything. Not many people around campus know too much about the cross country program and we kind of revel in our anonymity. We also like to see people's faces when we tell them how many miles we run and we hear things like, "You do all that at once?" or "I don't drive that much."
Tell us a little bit about your excitement to compete in the National Athletic Training Associations Quiz Bowl in June.
The closer it gets and the more I hear about it, the more nervous I get. However, once the first question is asked I know all those nerves will quickly go away. The Quiz Bowl is actually taking place in a big auditorium where other students, potential employers and certified athletic trainers will be watching. I'm excited to represent Hofstra and New York since all the students who qualified are from NY; it's in our backyard so we have to do well. I like competition so I welcome anything that will challenge me or make me think.
What do you like most about being a Hofstra student?
I like that Hofstra is so close to my home because I'm very close with my family, also that it was the right fit for me with cross country, the major I wanted and its locality. I also like how Hofstra seems to be getting better every year with all the renovations that have been going on. Also since I've been here, we've gotten some national publicity with basketball beating George Mason twice the year of their miracle run in the tournament, lacrosse beating No. 1 Johns Hopkins, Softball dominating every year, and from Marques Colston and the ESPN commercial-"Hofstra? Hofstra."
Any particular faculty members that have helped mentor you along the way towards your career in athletic training?
I would have to thank a lot of people for these four years. The professors who run the program Jayne Kitsos and Heather Clemons have spent more time than I'm sure they care to recount with me in their offices figuring things out about class or my rotations. Also, the athletic trainers with the teams really get on about taking initiative with our education, asking questions and getting involved.