"Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers, health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations and disabilities."
There are five domains of athletic training listed in the 7th edition (2015) of the Athletic Training Practice Analysis:
An athletic trainer functions as an integral member of the health care team in clinics, secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports programs, and other athletic health care settings.
Athletic training in the United States began in October 1881 when Harvard University hired James Robinson to work conditioning their football team. At the time, the term "athletic trainer" meant one who worked with track and field athletes. Robinson had worked with track and field athletes and the name "athletic trainer" transferred to those working on conditioning these football players and later other athletes. Athletic trainers began to treat and rehabilitate injuries in order to keep the athletes participating. The first major text on athletic training and the care of athletic injuries was called Athletic Training (later changed to The Trainer's Bible) written in 1917 by Samuel E. Bilik. Early athletic trainers had "no technical knowledge, their athletic training techniques usually consisted of a rub, the application of some type of counterirritant, and occasionally the prescription of various home remedies and poultices". In 1918, Chuck Cramer started the Cramer Chemical Company (now Cramer Products) that produced a line of products used by athletic trainers and began publishing a newsletter in 1932 entitled The First Aider.
An organization named the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) was founded in 1938 and folded in 1944. Another NATA was founded in 1950 and still exists. The first athletic training curriculum approved by NATA was in 1959 and the amount of athletic training programs began to grow throughout colleges and universities in the United States. In the early development of the major, athletic training was geared more towards prepping the student for teaching at the secondary level, emphasizing on health and physical education. This program was first introduced at an undergraduate level in 1969 to the schools of Mankato State University, Indiana State University, Lamar University, and the University of New Mexico.
Through the years athletic training has evolved to be defined as "health care professionals who specialize in preventing, recognizing, managing, and rehabilitating injures". During the 1970s the NATA Professional Education Committee formed a list of objectives to define athletic training as a major course of study and to eliminate it as a secondary-level teaching credential. By June 1982, there were nine NATA-approved graduate athletic training education programs. On July 1, 1986, this work was used to implement athletic training as a major course of study in at least 10 colleges and universities, and to only start the development of the major in a handful of others.
Once athletic training was recognized as an allied health profession the process of accrediting programs began. NATA's Professional Education Committee (PEC) was the first to take on this role of approving athletic training educational programs. The AMA's Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) was given the responsibility in 1993 to develop requirements for the programs of entry-level athletic trainers. At this time all programs had to go through the CAHEA accreditation process. A year later CAHEA was broken up and replaced with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which then lead the accreditation process. In 2003 JRC-AT, Joint Review Committee on Athletic Training completely took over the process and became an independent accrediting agency like all other allied health professions had. Three years later JRC-AT officially became the Committee for Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), which is fully in charge of accrediting athletic training programs in the United States. NATA produced the NATABOC in 1969 in order to implement a certification process for the profession for an entry-level athletic trainer. In 1989, became an independent non-profit corporation and soon later changed its name to the Board of Certification (BOC).
The Board of Certification serves as the national certifying body for athletic trainers, and its Standards of Professional Practice outline the roles and responsibilities of certified athletic trainers. Such practice standards include practice expectations such as, "The Athletic Trainer renders service or treatment under the direction of a physician." Regardless of the setting, limitations and restrictions on what an athletic trainer can do and who can be treated are in large part determined by the regulatory statutes governing professional practice in individual states.
"In certain situations, an individual may require treatment from or consultation with a variety of both medical and nonmedical services and personnel other than the athletic trainer." It is the athletic trainer's responsibility to understand the limits of their scope of practice and recognize situations where a referral is necessary. "A number of support health services may be used including school health services, nurses, physicians, dentists, podiatrists, physician's assistants, physical therapists, strength and conditioning specialists, biomechanists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, psychologists, massage therapists, occupational therapists, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, chiropractors, orthopedists, prosthesis, equipment personnel, referees, or social workers."
"The National Athletic Trainers' Association Code of Ethics states the principles of ethical behavior that should be followed in the practice of athletic training. It is intended to establish and maintain high standards and professionalism for the athletic training profession."
All courses may have prerequisites to be completed before taking further coursework. Also, those prerequisites and content of the courses will vary upon the institute and professor. The courses listed below are commonly taken to increase knowledge regarding athletic training.
The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) website provides a list of all the accredited programs in the United States. It provides you with the name of the college, who to contact, and a link to the institution's website. An Undergraduate Athletic Training degree can only be received at an accredited school for athletic training.
Although the majority of athletic trainers receive a bachelor's degree in athletic training before taking the Board of Certification Exam (BOC), it is not the only way to receive an education in athletic training. An entry-level masters program is a two-year program that covers the same material as an undergraduate athletic training degree. Common prerequisite classes are human anatomy, human physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, nutrition, and personal health along with a certain number of observation hours completed under the supervision of a certified athletic trainer (ATC). Prerequisites can vary by institution so be sure to research the prerequisites for your institutions of interest. There are 26 accredited entry level masters programs in the U.S.A. See below for a link to a list of these institutions.
There are approximately 15 accredited athletic training masters programs. These programs consist of students who are already certified athletic trainers that want to advance their academic and clinical experience. These are two-year programs which culminate with a Master of Science degree (M.S.) in athletic training. Graduate programs in athletic training are not always specifically in athletic training, but in a related field. Some of these fields may include, but are not limited to, kinesiology, biomechanics, sports management, sport and exercise psychology, exercise physiology, health promotion, etc. These programs are also two years in length. While enrolled in one of these programs, the athletic trainer may gain clinical experience and receive a stipend through a make some money by obtaining a graduate assistantship.
A graduate assistant athletic trainer position is a position in which a graduate athletic training student is able to work as an assistant athletic trainer while taking graduate courses. Graduate assistant athletic trainers are responsible for providing the medical coverage of select teams at the institution where they are working. Responsibilities may vary, but include administering daily medical coverage for selected intercollegiate athletic teams (practice/event); traveling with the assigned team, evaluation and documentation of athletic injuries, administrative responsibilities, serve as Approved Clinical Instructor (ACI) or Clinical Instructor (CI) in a CAATE - accredited ATEP, and other duties as assigned by the head athletic trainer. Other responsibilities may include working at a high school, clinic, teaching, or doing research. Graduate assistant positions are generally about 10-month appointments that are renewable after the first year, and may include additional summer work. Visit the National Athletic Trainers' Association Career Center for job postings.
Athletic Training programs are evaluated by CAATE to ensure that they follow the standards for Entry-Level Athletic Training Programs. Evaluations may take place every three to seven years depending on the results of the last visit. Successfully completing the CAATE accredited education program is a part of the criteria that determines a candidate's eligibility for the Board of Certification (BOC) examination.
"The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) is the professional membership association for certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession. Founded in 1950, the NATA has grown to more than 35,000 members worldwide today. The majority of certified athletic trainers choose to be members of the NATA - to support their profession, and to receive a broad array of membership benefits. By joining forces as a group, NATA members can accomplish more for the athletic training profession than they can individually".
Before the formation of NATA, athletic trainers occupied a somewhat insecure place in the athletic program. Since that time, as a direct result of the standards and ethics established by NATA, there has been considerable professional advancement. Every year NATA works on behalf of all athletic trainers to enhance health care for both athletic trainers and those who receive care.
NATA is the professional organization for Athletic trainers across the nation. Each region of the USA has their own district under NATA but within their area, they have their own agendas and board members. Each district also has a director that serves on the NATA Board of Directors.
Every state has their own state athletic training association that acts similar to the district associations as they have their own board members. The state associations answer to the district associations and the National Athletic Trainers' Association. Links to the state associations can be found through the regional websites.
Due to the physicality of athletics and the campaign for healthy well-being, there are issues that become hot topics in the media. Athletic trainers have to continually be aware of changes in laws, position statements of the National Athletic Trainers Association, and institutional policies.
Current hot topics and topics to keep an eye on include:
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