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What is Athletic Training?

What is athletic training?

Athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as an allied health care profession.

 

Who are athletic trainers?

Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

Athletic trainers are sometimes confused with personal trainers. There is, however, a large difference in the education, skillset, job duties and patients of an athletic trainer and a personal trainer. The athletic training academic curriculum and clinical training follows the medical model. Athletic training is an academic major or graduate equivalent major program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). The current minimum entry point into the profession of athletic training is the baccalaureate level, however it was recently decided by the AT Strategic Alliance that the minimum professional degree level will be a master's, a change to be implemented within the next several years. More than 70 percent of athletic trainers hold at least a master’s degree. Upon completion of a CAATE-accredited athletic training education program, students become eligible for national certification by successfully completing the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) examination.

 

If you are a current high school student and interested in athletic training, read more about Becoming an AT (pdf).

Regulation of athletic trainers

  • Athletic trainers are licensed or otherwise regulated in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Efforts continue to add licensure in California. 
  • NATA has ongoing efforts to update obsolete state practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of ATs under health care reform.
  • 48 states and the District of Columbia require ATs to hold the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer Certified” (ATC).  

 

Why use athletic trainers?

Athletic trainers provide medical services to all types of patients, not just athletes participating in sports, and can work in a variety of job settings. Athletic trainers relieve widespread and future workforce shortages in primary care support and outpatient rehab professions and provide an unparalleled continuum of care for the patients.

Athletic trainers improve functional outcomes and specialize in patient education to prevent injury and re-injury. Preventative care provided by an athletic trainer has a positive return on investment for employers. ATs are able to reduce injury and shorten rehabilitation time for their patients, which translates to lower absenteeism from work or school and reduced health care costs.