This essay is from a 2020 Student Loan Planner Scholarship winner.
I earned the degree of Doctor of Athletic Training in June of 2018. During my final year of the program, I accepted employment with an orthopedic physician’s practice.
My duties are to perform in-office rehabilitation utilizing advanced manual therapy and other therapeutic techniques to provide evidence-based care to patients learned through my degree programs, ten years of clinical experience, and self-directed continuing education.
At the onset of the pandemic, I wondered how I would or not be affected financially by working in a small orthopedic practice. Although our hours of operation were forced to decrease and the number of patients seen per hour was less, the orthopedic group’s goal was to guarantee financial security to every employee, even if it meant they couldn’t pay rent for some time.
Guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the state of Texas were enforced to limit person-to-person contact to keep all employees and patients safe. Every patient and employee has been required to use personal protective equipment and submit to COVID-19 screening.
As an “essential” business, we continued to prioritize all post-surgical patients in our rehabilitation clinic so that he/she may progress toward their desired outcome(s) and improve functional limitations.
The CARES Act and the security of receiving my full monthly salary had a positive economic impact on my life.
I was able to continue pouring into local businesses and commerce as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to pay myself. I felt secure financially but not emotionally.
I am an essential healthcare provider. Each day I put on a mask, interacted with patients within a distance of six feet, took someone’s temperature, listened to the news, presidential address, or communications from our governor. Daily life and work elicited a tremendous amount of anxiety and fear. The fear and anxiety grew for months as states sheltered in place, and the public panicked.
At the beginning of May, our sports medicine group slowly began to increase the number of patients to be evaluated or treated. The confidence of each provider increased as well. I know I will continue to be at risk for exposure to this virus, but I also know I am doing everything I can to protect myself and my patients.
I am a client of the Student Loan Planner with almost $200,000.00 in student loan debt, which has been emotionally and financially challenging over the past several years with the knowledge of a significant tax bomb awaiting me in approximately two decades. Still, I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to save nearly $400.00/monthly since March 2020.
It may not seem to be a lot to contribute to the tax bomb fund, but the return on my educational investment is minuscule for someone in my profession.
Athletic training is not always recognized, but it is considered an allied health profession recognized by the American Medical Association since 1990. The average annual salary for an athletic trainer is $45,000.00. I’m currently on an income-driven repayment plan, which will never decrease my interest or principal balance, considering my annual gross income. I am on track to save nearly $2,000.00 with the extension of this act through the end of the year, and to say I’m beyond grateful to have this jump-start into paying taxes on my loan forgiveness in 20 years is an understatement.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share and considering me for the scholarship.