Athletic Training Corner - March 2012

March is Athletic Training Month!
What is Athletic Training?

Athletic Trainer vs. Trainer (pdf)

Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers (AT), health care professionals who work with physicians to help people of all ages achieve optimal health. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of medical conditions that limit the body’s functions.

The clinical tasks routinely performed by athletic trainers are organized according to five domain areas: 
  • Injury/illness prevention and wellness protection
  • Clinical evaluation and diagnosis
  • Immediate and emergency care
  • Treatment and rehabilitation
  • Organizational and professional health and wellbeing

Athletic trainers are well-known, recognized, qualified health care professionals.
ATs are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals, and fall under the allied health professions category as defined by Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

State regulation of athletic trainers
  • Athletic trainers licensed or regulated in 47 states; efforts continue to add licensure in Alaska, California and Hawaii.
  • 46 states require ATs to hold the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer, Certified” (ATC).
  • The National Association of Athletic Trainers (NATA) has ongoing efforts to update out-of-date state practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of ATs under health care reform.
  • ATs work under different job titles (wellness manager, physician extender, rehab specialist, etc.).
  • Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited Bachelors or Masters program; 70 percent of ATs have a Masters degree.
What do athletic trainers do?
  • ATs work in hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices and are in demand for their injury and illness prevention skills
  • ATs have knowledge and skills in manual therapy (“hands on”) and similar treatments for conditions that affect muscles or the skeletal system, including back pain.
  • ATs motivate people to safely improve their health and fitness.
  • ATs commonly work with patients with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions.
ATs specialize in patient education to prevent injury and re-injury.
  • Studies have shown that ATs improve quality of life for patients.
Many athletic trainers work outside of athletic settings; they provide physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as other services, to people of all ages.
ATs often work in:
  • Physician offices as physician extenders
  • Rural and urban hospitals, hospital emergency rooms, urgent and ambulatory care centers.
  • Clinics with specialties in sports medicine, cardiac rehab, medical fitness, wellness and physical therapy.
  • Occupational health departments in commercial settings, which include manufacturing, distribution and offices to assist with ergonomics.
  • Police and fire departments and academies, public safety and municipal departments, branches of the military.
  • Public and private secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional and Olympic sports.
  • Youth leagues, municipal and independently owned youth sports facilities.
Athletic Training degree programs include education in:
  • Risk management and injury prevention
  • Injuries and illnesses
  • Orthopedics (a branch of medicine involving the correction or prevention of injury to the skeletal and related systems)
  • Clinical examination and diagnosis
  • Medical conditions and disabilities
  • Acute (demanding urgent attention) care of injuries and illnesses
  • Therapies
  • Conditioning, rehabilitative exercise and referrals
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Nutrition
  • Health care administration

The title of “athletic trainer” and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association

Athletic trainers provide medical services to all types of people - not just athletes participating in sports - and do not train people as personal or fitness trainers do. However, the profession continues to embrace its proud culture and history by retaining the title. In other countries, athletic therapist and physiotherapist are similar titles.

NATA represents more than 34,000 members in the U.S. and internationally, and there are about 40,000 ATs practicing nationally. NATA represents students in 325 accredited collegiate academic programs. The athletic training profession began early in the 20th century, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association was established in 1950.

In an occupational comparison done by the U.S. Department of Labor, Athletic Trainers are placed in Job Zone 5.  This means that it is an occupation which involves extensive preparation.  Other professions that were in this zone were Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, and Dietitians and Nutritionists.  In addition, it was given a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) of 8.0+.  This is a rating from 1-9 showing how much preparation is needed for certain occupations.