How to Successfully Run a Medical Testing Day


The following guide will help you understand the requirements, plan the logistics, organize effectively, and consider potential partnerships to run a successful medical testing day.

The following article was written by Paige Shannon. Paige is a Certified Athletic Therapist, Certified Athletic Trainer, and player safety advocate with 10 years experience in grassroots, collegiate, amateur, and provincial athletics.

Medical testing days are one of the most common practices across professional sports. The idea is to have one day set aside at the start of training camp, or the start of the season, to ensure all pieces of the medical puzzle are completed and no athlete gets missed. A medical testing day is where all of the athletes who attend camp are put through the medical wringer of tests. Typically, the tests are in accordance with the protocols set out by the league, and are often standardized. For example, in the Western Hockey League, athletes do medical physicals with a physician, dental fittings with a dentist, and baseline concussion testing with a Certified Athletic Therapist.  This model can be adapted to fit the needs, protocols and accessibility of clubs and leagues.

The results of the tests are shared with relevant parties– typically the medical staff that travels with the team. This way, if anything happens on the road, that medical staff is fully informed and can provide care, regardless of facility. The opposite is also true; if an athlete sustains an injury on the road, any medical reports completed are shared with medical staff at home facilities.

What do I need to run a medical day with my team?

Planning medical days to suit your organization’s needs can be simple. Start by reviewing the protocols of your league or organization and have an understanding of each pre-season component. For example, if you work for a hockey association that has elite divisions, and these elite programs require concussion baseline testing to be completed, but no other pre-season screening or testing, you can skip the physicals and do concussion baseline testing only.

Here is an example of what you need in order to successfully run a medical day:

  1. Understand the pieces your organization requires
    • Physicals? Baseline concussion testing? There may also be some educational components such as acknowledging Rowan’s Law that can be accomplished at the same time
  2. Find a venue that can accommodate all of your athletes
    • Community Centre or Conference Centre
    • Arena/locker rooms
    • Fieldhouse 
  3. Set a date and time
    • Ensure you share this information with all of the staff and athletes that will be required to attend. The date and time should be shared out as early as possible.
    • Create a schedule of when athletes will be doing each piece of their testing. Your own needs will vary, but typically it takes an athlete about 15 minutes to complete a concussion baseline, 10  minutes to complete a physical, and 5 minutes to read/sign off on various forms.
  4. Hire volunteers and staff to help organize people and paperwork
    • Having a “Master of Ceremonies” who can track down athletes and get them from place to place can be very helpful! Often this person can be a coach, parent, or manager.
    • I like to use spreadsheets to check off each athlete as they complete a component so that by the end of the day, each athlete is accounted for for each aspect
  5. Have a system of organizing completed forms and paperwork
    • Where will your completed tests be stored?
    • Who will have access to the area – are they going to be sitting on a table in public, or behind closed doors with special access?
      • Keep in mind, health data is sensitive and private and should only be accessible by those within the circle of care for the athletes.

What makes a medical day successful?

For a medical day to be successful, I’ve found that the key is space; you don’t want athletes disrupting or interrupting each other, or being a distraction while medical testing is happening. Setting up different stations, with each station in a different room, is ideal; if that can’t happen, try to partition your space so that athletes can’t see the rest of the team hanging out while they’re going through testing. The space should be relatively quiet, comfortable, and be accessible for all athletes and staff.

Depending on the scope of testing, you will also need the following tools:

  • Concussion baseline tests:
    • 3m line (tape on the floor works!)
    • A stopwatch
    • Timer
    • Penlight
  • Physicals:
    • Blood pressure cuff
    • Stethoscope
    • Pulse Oximeter

Who can I partner with?

Some organizations partner with physicians directly, or with physical therapy and medical clinics for the care of their athletes throughout the season. If your organization already has a partnership in place, great! If not, take a look at some local companies that may be interested in helping.

On top of that, HEADCHECK Health provides baseline and concussion testing and management services to organizations of all levels – from grassroots minor hockey up to professionals. The software expedites the testing process for each player, limits manual paperwork, and minimizes the potential for misplaced tests and paperwork. To maximize efficiency throughout the process, forms can also be added and signed through the system. 

Having your medical testing completed in a one-stop-shop day maximizes time and efforts, and minimizes the need to chase athletes down to get their pre-season tests completed. This process is tried and tested; medical days are an effective way to test athletes en masse across many different sports, at many different levels.

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