Bryn Cortez

We sat down with Bryn Cortez - a student in UC's Pre-Athletic Training Program. She shared her experience and gave some advice for Pre-AT's future bearcats.

Bryn Cortez, 3rd year  in the Health Science - Pre Athletic Training Program, holds water on the football field.

Bryn Cortez, 3rd year in the Health Science - Pre Athletic Training Program

What do you enjoy doing outside of class?

My favorite pastimes are going to the gym, watching sitcoms, hanging out with my friends, and reading. I am currently President of REHABCATS, which is the pre-athletic training club on campus. I’m very lucky to be given this amazing leadership position and I’m excited to help make this year the best REHABCATS has ever seen! I am also Vice President of MAPS, which stands for Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students. After electing a completely new executive board, we are rebuilding the club ground up. It has been an interesting experience and a great test of my leadership and organizational abilities. Finally, I am a CAHS ambassador. I absolutely love being able to share my experiences with prospective students; I will take any opportunity I can to brag about our AT program.

You are in an early assurance program for AT, which means you will earn a bachelor's and master’s degree in 5 years -  what has been the value of this program for you?

It’s amazing that I will have a graduate degree in only 5 years. I will get a head start on my career an entire year earlier than students in other programs while also saving two semesters of tuition. This extra year between my undergraduate career and when I will apply to medical school also provides me more time to network, shadow, participate in research, and gain volunteer hours to make myself an even better candidate. 

UC’s Health Sciences –Pre-AT program is unique in that it is a track specific to students who want to become an AT, how has this improved your undergraduate experience?

I love that I have AT-specific classes where I learn practical skills like taping, using therapeutic modalities, and using a psychrometer, most of which would not be covered in any other health sciences class. I also like how these classes are very small, only containing pre-AT students. I have become very close with my classmates and professors as a result, which creates a community atmosphere that is amazing for learning.

When did you know you wanted to be an Athletic Trainer?

I never had any experience with athletic trainers growing up because the sports I competed in were gymnastics and rowing – neither of which had on-field athletic trainers or rehabilitation options. My end goal was to apply to medical school and chose athletic training because it seemed fun and would make me stand out. But from my first week at football camp in the summer of 2021, I knew that I had found where I belong. My new life goal is to become a physician of orthopedics and sports medicine and to work for a collegiate athletics program.

What types of hands-on experiences have you been able to gain in the program?

I was accepted into the position of Sports Medicine Student Manager in August of 2021 and have been working for the UC Football team since. I have worked every single game, both home and away, which has given me more experience than I could ever ask for. I have seen deep abrasions, subluxations, concussions, a plethora of hamstring strains, and even spinal fractures. I was able to watch the mechanism of injury firsthand, assist with emergency management, and help with rehabilitation plans, giving me invaluable experience in my future field. I am incredibly grateful to Michele Galvin, Aaron Himmler, Gregory Raimando, and Carissa Fumarola for teaching me new skills and encouraging my participation.

How have the UC opportunities shaped your career goals or view of the profession?

My experience at UC has helped me pinpoint the exact future I want for myself. I now know that I belong in the sphere of collegiate athletics. I have spoken to current team physicians about their lifestyles and seen firsthand their integral roles in games and throughout the injury management process. I now know that my dream occupation is an orthopedics and sports medicine physician working with a collegiate athletics program. 

What impact do you hope to have in the lives of your patients or in your field?

Ultimately, I want to become a compassionate, approachable, trustworthy, and respected figure in the training room. I want athletes to feel comfortable enough to approach me with any ailment and have confidence in the way I address it. I want athletic trainers and physical therapists to feel like they can ask me any question within my scope and trust the legitimacy of my answer. My biggest motive, though, is a desire to break antiquated statistics. I want to move to the forefront of collegiate athletics and establish a permanent, respected place for female physicians and physicians of color in sports medicine. 

Is there any advice you would give a prospective student? 

Once you figure out how to manage your time efficiently, it is very important that you get involved with anything and everything you’re interested in. I took a chance to join MAPS my freshman year and have now earned a spot on the executive board, where I love my position and responsibilities. My position in REHABCATS, while demanding and stressful, has honed my leadership, organizational, and communication skills. I feel very comfortable leading meetings, delegating, and public speaking. Getting involved isn’t only about clubs, though – whenever you get a random promotional email about a research position or personal aide, at the very least read it and consider if it is an interesting experience for you. I signed up to be a scribe for a health sciences conference on a whim and had an amazing time and met a multitude of important, impactful people in my field. Overall, do not shy away from new opportunities.