Athletic trainer

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An athletic trainer is a certified, health care professional who practices in the field of athletic training. Athletic training has been recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as an allied healthcare profession since 1990[1].

Definition: As defined by the Strategic Implementation Team of the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) in August 2007:[2]

Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers, healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations and disabilities.


Certified Athletic Trainers meet a detailed set of qualifications in order to be eligible for certification. In some states and jurisdictions, the term "athletic trainer" is not regulated, and persons not certified by the Board of Certification (BOC) use the title athletic trainer. However, certified athletic trainers, sometimes referred to as ATCs, meet or exceed the minimum standards established by the BOC. The Board of Certification is an independent body, itself accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accreditation arm of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA).

The minimum qualifications for certification include[3]:

  • Completion of a baccalaureate or degree, in an accredited athletic education program
  • Completion of a minimum 800 hours of clinical internship under the supervision of a certified athletic trainer
  • Documentation of current ECC certification for healthcare workers (e.g. CPR)
  • Passage of the BOC Certification Exam
  • All ATCs must participate in continuing education, with documentation of said education required on an ongoing basis

While a baccalaureate degree is the minimum standard, over 70% of ATCs possess a masters degree or higher.[4]

Accredited athletic training education programs are overseen by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Currently there are 357 accredited, entry-level athletic training education programs[5].

Registration and Licensure

The practice and oversight of athletic training varies by state, as each states holds authority to pass and enforce state statutes recognizing athletic trainers as "health care professionals similar to physical therapists, occupational therapists and other health care professionals. Athletic training licensure/regulation exists in 44 states." Local and national organizations currently pursue licensure in the remaining states. Athletic trainers in all locales practice under the direction of licensed physicians[6].

Athletic Training Practice Domains

The field of athletic training has been divided into 6 distinct domains. They are:

1. Prevention
2. Clinical Evaluation and Diagnosis
3. Immediate Care
4. Treatment, Rehabilitation and Reconditioning
5. Organization and Administration
6. Professional Responsibility

Athletic Training Educational Programs

CAATE oversees the curriculum standards of all accredited member institutions. The standards dictate the content of both didactic and clinical practice portions of the educational program. Content areas include[7]:

  • Risk Management and Injury Prevention
  • Pathology of Injuries and Illnesses
  • Orthopedic Clinical Examination and Diagnosis
  • Medical Conditions and Disabilities
  • Acute Care of Injuries and Illnesses
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Conditioning and Rehabilitative Exercises
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychosocial Intervention and Referral
  • Nutritional Aspects of Injuries and Illnesses
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Professional Development and Responsibility

Treatment Population and Settings[8]

Athletic Trainers treat a broad population, from the amateur and professional athlete to the typical patient in need of orthopaedic rehabilitative care. The NATA describes typical clients groups as,

• Recreational, amateur and professional athletes
• Individuals who have suffered musculoskeletal injuries
• Those seeking strength, conditioning, fitness and performance enhancement
• Others designated by the physician.

Services rendered by the athletic trainer take place in a wide variety of settings and venues. These may include,

• Athletic training facilities
• Schools (K-12, colleges, universities)
• Clinics
• Hospitals
• Physician offices
• Community facilities
• Workplaces (commercial and government)
• Military installations and veteran medical facilities
• Professional sport organizations

Emerging settings for athletic training include surgical fellowship opportunities[9]. Two of these pioneering programs have been established at Emory Sports Medicine Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the Steadman-Hawkins clinic in Vail, Colorado.

Athletic Training and the Mitchell Report

Numerous media reports have referred to Brian McNamee, a figure central to the allegations of doping with the Mitchell Report, as a "trainer" or "sports trainer." Many may confuse this reference as to believe that Mr. McNamee is an athletic trainer.

According to the NATA[10], and the independent Board of Certification, Mr. McNamee is not, nor has ever been, a certified athletic trainer. To date, no certified athletic trainer has been implicated in any involvement in the doping issues associated with the Mitchell Report, nor with the individuals cited it its contents.

The NATA has issued a position statement that clearly indicates opposition to doping and the illicit use of performance enhancement products.


  1. "What is an Athletic Trainer?". The Board of Certification Website. 2007.
  2. "Strategic implementation team defines profession". NATA News (12/2007): 14. 2007.
  3. BOC Candidate Handbook
  4. The FACTS About Certified Athletic Trainers and The National Athletic Trainers’ Association
  5. Overview of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education
  6. The FACTS About Certified Athletic Trainers and The National Athletic Trainers’ Association
  7. "What is an Athletic Trainer?". The Board of Certification Website. 2007.
  8. "Strategic implementation team defines profession". NATA News (12/2007): 14. 2007.
  9. Hunt, Valerie (2006). "Education continues to evolve: post-professional education expands". NATA News (1/2006): 14–19.
  10. Satlof, Ellen (2007). "Mitchell Report: Importance of proper terminology" (subscription required). NATA Website (12/17/2007).

Look also

External links

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