The California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA) fully supports the 2011 “Strategic Alliance Statement on Athletic Training Student Supervision” and the 2014 “Proper Supervision of Secondary School Student Aides” from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). The strategic alliance includes the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC), the NATA Foundation, and the NATA. These official statements concluded that the safety and welfare of patients is of primary concern and improper use and supervision of students increases the exposure of the institution and the individual healthcare professional to liability. Student supervision must be adequate to ensure that each patient receives competent and quality health care.

Position Statement

This position statement on the proper supervision of students applies to all students (i.e., non-certified individuals), including those at, or in, the middle school, high school, community college, and college/university settings and is not limited to only those students enrolled in a CAATE-accredited athletic training education program. This statement includes any patient-care setting where an athletic training student might apply athletic training knowledge, skills, and clinical abilities on an actual patient.

Secondary & Middle School Students

The CATA recognizes that allowing secondary school students the opportunity to observe the daily professional duties and responsibilities of an athletic trainer can be a valuable educational experience. In accordance with the 2014 Proper Supervision of Secondary School Student Aides document from the NATA, secondary school students enrolled in sports medicine courses or volunteering in a secondary school athletic environment must only observe the licensed/certified athletic trainer during patient care.

Athletic trainers, coaches and school administrators must not allow or expect secondary or middle school student aides to assist, or act independently, with regard to:

  1. Preventative care (including taping/bracing)
  2. Evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries
  3. Make “return to play” decisions
  4. Interpret referrals from other healthcare providers
  5. Make decisions about treatments, procedures, or activities
  6. Independently provide athletic training services during team travel/
    It is highly recommended that secondary school students assist the BOC-certified athletic trainer with documentation of injuries including, but not limited to: injury assessments, injury treatments, rehabilitation programs, etc. in order to assist the BOC-certified athletic trainer in documenting the value of athletic training services provided.


Non-Secondary School Students 

It is the CATA position that non-secondary school students may provide athletic training-related services to patients only when directly supervised by a BOC-certified, or otherwise state credentialed, health care professional. Direct supervision of students during patient care is defined as a BOC-certified, or otherwise state credentialed health care professional, being physically present with the ability to intervene on behalf of the patient and the athletic training student. 

BOC-certified athletic trainers that choose to supervise students during patient care should develop written policies and procedures that clearly define the roles and responsibilities, and should outline those tasks/duties that the student may or may not engage during their supervised patient care activities. The appropriate personnel (e.g., risk manager) at each institution/location should approve these written policies and procedures to comply with the institution’s standard regarding assumption of risk and liability.

Athletic training students should only travel with athletic teams when directly supervised at all times by their supervising BOC-certified athletic trainer. Traveling without appropriate supervision is contrary to the safety and welfare of the patients as the BOC-certified athletic trainer at the host institution cannot provide direct supervision at all times and is unable to intervene on behalf of the student and the patient.

In addition, this type of practice increases the exposure of the visiting and host institutions to increased liability due to the actions of the unsupervised student. In states that require licensure of athletic trainers, an unsupervised athletic training student traveling out of state may be a violation of state law.

Professional Responsibility and Ethics

It is the professional responsibility of all BOC-certified athletic trainers who become aware of the improper use of an athletic training student(s), as dictated by the BOC Code of Professional Responsibility and the NATA Code of Ethics, report the violation to the BOC, the NATA, and/or the CATA ( where appropriate. The Code of Professional Responsibility (BOC) and the Code of Ethics (NATA) designates the following responsibilities within the athletic training profession:

  • Code of Professional Responsibility (Section 3.5) – requires that an athletic trainer “reports any suspected or known violation of a rule, requirement, regulation or law by him/herself and/or by another Athletic Trainer that is related to the practice of athletic training, public health, patient care or education.”
  • Code of Ethics (Principle 2.2) – “members shall be familiar with and abide by all National Athletic Trainers’ Association standards, rules and regulations.”
  • Code of Ethics (Principle 2.3) – “members shall report illegal or unethical practices related to athletic training to the appropriate person or authority.”


 PDF File of CATA Statement on Student Supervision

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