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ATC Fellows Reflect on their First Months with VSON

VSON recently welcomed a new group of athletic training fellows into our program. Coming from diverse backgrounds but all with the same goal: to add to their experiences and successfully complete our competitive, comprehensive fellowship program.



We recently got a chance to check in with our ATC fellows Miranda Kruse, Michael Donohue, and Reh Vanatta and how their first couple of months with VSON have been going!


Michael Donahue





Originally from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Michael Donohue joins the VSO team following two years as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer for The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. During his time at The Citadel, Michael worked with the Cadets as their Athletic Trainer while pursuing a master's in business administration. 


What's your favorite thing about the program so far? My favorite part is being a part of a small team where all the team members have the same goals and work hard every day together to give patients the best outcome possible 


What's the most challenging thing you've had to do so far?


The most challenging thing so far has been learning about specific specialties - like the hand with Dr. Dorf, spine with Dr. Raub, and biologics with Dr. Gnirke. It’s been a welcomed challenge to try to see and evaluate patients the way they do so you find the right diagnosis every time!


What's your impression of the Vail & Summit County area?


I am in love with Eagle & Summit county! There is SO much to do and explore and not to mention the amazing restaurants! It’s been wonderful getting to experience everything with my fellow residents and I think we’re all excited for some skiing here soon!


What excites you most about the winter season coming?


I am extremely excited to learn to ski! I’ve only been once before back home in Michigan - so maybe that will be my new biggest challenge come a month from now...I’ve had several colleagues offer to help me learn so I’m thrilled about that :)


What advice would you give for potential applicants to the program?


Potential applicants should start to think about what they’re looking for out of another academic year & possibly begin to shadow in clinics that operate like ours to see if they feel they’d enjoy this experience - it’s much different from traditional athletic training but there is a ton to learn from this staff so if they’re eager to expand their career options I would encourage them to apply!


Reh Vanatta


Reh is a Colorado native, having been raised in Salida, Colorado. She received her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Colorado Mesa University in 2017.  She later earned a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Health Administration from Portland State University. 

While there, she was the athletic trainer for the women’s volleyball and women’s tennis teams. In her free time, Reh can be found running, skiing, hiking, and doing other outdoor activities. 


What's your favorite thing about the program so far?


It’s hard to pick only one favorite thing about the program so far, although I would have to prioritize noting the staff at VSON and their approach to teaching. On the interview, we were told several times “we are a family here at VSON”, which is what many places tell you. This staff really embodies that phrase. This sets up a really sweet environment for learning, as they don’t shy away from challenging us, questioning us, putting us on the spot, and often constructively being hard on us. It sometimes feels like a tough love type of situation.


There’s a lot of space and grace at VSON however. They provide us the tools to be successful and offer a space for us to perform, fail, try again, and fail again, but they don’t let us quit on ourselves until we get it right. The patience and perseverance they have with us has not gone unappreciated by me or the other residents.


Plus, at the end of the day or week, many of them are asking us to grab food, go for a hike, or sip some coffee and just enjoy getting to know each other. There has been a lot of follow up outside of work to connect and include us in their community which has greatly enhanced my experience of being in the valley.


What's the most challenging thing you've had to do so far?


It was pretty challenging to let go and trust the process in the beginning. It’s a whole different ball game transitioning from collegiate athletics to the clinical/surgical setting and it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with the steep learning curve. We are doing things here that we have never done before and it initially felt like there was an expectation to get up to speed immediately.


My second day of rotation, I was scrubbing into the OR for the first time. The second week I was suturing a real patient after surgery. We have been dictating notes, learning to read imaging, trying to present to physicians properly, assisting in surgery, and so much more! The reality is that this stuff isn’t part of our athletic training curriculum and that’s exactly why we are here. When I finally started to drop my pride and be humbled in the presence of a wealth of knowledge I so greatly wanted, I started to relax and learn.


As a resident, I’ve learned I simply have to commit to the process, trust the teams, and I will grow exponentially faster in this setting. I think it’s still important to hold yourself accountable and have expectations of yourself, but we can all do that without beating ourselves up too much.


What's your impression of the Vail & Summit County area?


Being back in the mountains and in my home state has been a dream. There’s no shortage of things to do here. Every weekend, we have been busy doing some activity such as hiking, running, laying out at Nottingham lake, tubing the river, attending the farmers market, hitting a Barre class, listening to a free concert in the park, etc.


We have been up early (like 3:15am early) for a sunrise hike in Vail and we’ve stayed up late playing charades and watching movies. There’s simply not enough time in the week to enjoy every possible thing in the valley but Michael, Miranda, and I have been taking advantage of many things the valley has to offer. I’m certainly itching to put on my telemark skis and experience the terrain here before too long!


What excites you most about the winter season coming?


If your first answer isn’t skiing, what are you doing with your life? I’m super excited to explore mountains offered on the Epic pass, including Vail and Beaver Creek that are right in our backyard here. I can’t wait to shred with the staff and help teach Miranda how to ski. I’m also looking forward to getting on the mountain and providing coverage for the US ski and snowboard teams here before long.


It’s going to be awesome in the office too. I’m excited to be on call and experience some bigger trauma cases. The winter and increase in snow-related injuries will provide more opportunities to learn about how to approach trauma in the office and OR.


What advice would you give for potential applicants to the program?


Know what you know, but also know you still know so little. We wouldn’t need this program if we had all the answers. Study the foundations of anatomy and core athletic training knowledge such as examinations and special tests but also let yourself be moldable.


The more you’re willing to let go and adapt to the different styles of teaching and working of each team, the more you will get out of this residency year. I can promise that each incoming resident will be corrected on multiple things that they might consider “common knowledge” or “easy”, as I know I have. Be prepared to say, “I don’t know” and go look it up. An open mind and a good attitude will be the solid foundation that allows you to learn here at VSON.


Miranda Kruse


Miranda is from Ann Arbor, MI. She received her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Alma College in 2017 where she played lacrosse all four years. She went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science with a focus on concussion research at the University of North Carolina.

What's your favorite thing about the program so far?


My favorite part is being a part of a small team where all the team members have the same goals and work hard everyday together to give patients the best outcome possible.


The most challenging thing so far has been learning about specific specialties - like the hand with Dr. Dorf, spine with Dr. Raub, and biologics with Dr. Gnirke. It’s been a welcomed challenge to try to see and evaluate patients the way they do so you find the right diagnosis every time!


What's your impression of the Vail & Summit County area?


I am in love with Eagle & Summit county! There is SO much to do and explore and not to mention the amazing restaurants! It’s been wonderful getting to experience everything with my fellow residents and I think we’re all excited for some skiing here soon!


What excites you most about the winter season coming?


I am extremely excited to learn to ski! I’ve only been once before back home in Michigan - so maybe that will be my new biggest challenge come a month from now...I’ve had several colleagues offer to help me learn so I’m thrilled about that :)

What advice would you give for potential applicants to the program?


Potential applicants should start to think about what they’re looking for out of another academic year & possibly begin to shadow in clinics that operate like ours to see if they feel they’d enjoy this experience - it’s much different from traditional athletic training but there is a ton to learn from this staff so if they’re eager to expand their career options I would encourage them to apply!

Learn more about our ATC Fellow Program here: www.atcresidency.org

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