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What is an Athletic Trainer
An athletic trainer specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of muscle and bone injuries and illnesses, and is educated in emergency care for catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries, sudden cardiac arrest, heat illness and concussions.
Working under the direction of a licensed physician, and in cooperation with other healthcare providers, athletic trainers are recognized as allied health professionals by the American Medical Association (AMA), and must meet the qualifications set by a state regulatory board and/or the Board of Certification, Inc.
- Must obtain, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from an accredited university or college and complete appropriate clinical training
- Must pass a comprehensive exam to earn the athletic trainer (ATC) credential
- Must keep their knowledge and skills current by participating in continuing education
- Must adhere to standards of professional practice set by the Board of Certification and to the NATA code of ethics
Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings, including schools, colleges, professional sports, clinics, hospitals, corporations, industry, performing arts venues, municipalities (e.g. fire and police departments) and the military.
Athletic Training Education
Per the NATA
Athletic training education uses a competency-based approach in both the classroom and clinical settings. Using a medical-based education model, athletic training students are educated to provide comprehensive patient care in five domains of clinical practice:
- clinical evaluation and diagnosis
- immediate and emergency care
- treatment and rehabilitation
- organization and professional health and well-being.
The educational requirements for CAATE-accredited athletic training education programs include acquisition of knowledge, skills and clinical abilities along with a broad scope of foundational behaviors of professional practice. Students complete an extensive clinical learning requirement that is embodied in the clinical integration proficiencies (professional, practice oriented outcomes) as identified in the Athletic Training Education Competencies (PDF).
Students must receive formal instruction in the following specific subject matter areas identified in the Competencies:
- Evidence-based practice
- Prevention and health promotion
- Clinical examination and diagnosis
- Acute care of injury and illness
- Therapeutic interventions
- Psychosocial strategies and referral
- Health care administration
- Professional development and responsibility