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.

Athletic Trainers:

  • 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 one national certifying agency and to a national code of ethics

The practice of athletic training includes:

  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation services
  • Life-saving medical skills in emergency situations
  • Apply protective or injury-preventive devices such as tape, bandages and braces
  • Prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate injuries and illnesses (acute and chronic)
  • Coordinate care with physicians and other health care professionals
  • Make return-to-activity/return-to-work decisions.

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.

More than Just a “Trainer”

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “trainer?” Most likely you think of a personal trainer – someone who works with individuals to design and/or monitor an exercise program.

There are significant differences between personal trainers and athletic trainers though – both in terms of qualifications and practice.

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