Athletic training is a health care profession that involves the prevention of athletic injuries, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions, and emergency situations. The profession is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), and the Department of Health and Human Services as an allied health care profession.
Who are athletic trainers?
Athletic trainers are highly qualified and skilled health care professionals who work under the direction of a physician and in accordance with their individual state’s statutes, rules, and regulations. Athletic trainers can work in a variety of settings including athletic, clinical, industrial, and tactical settings. The services provided by athletic trainers include but are not limited to:
- Injury and illness prevention
- Wellness promotion and education
- Emergent Care
- Examination and Clinical Diagnosis
- Therapeutic Intervention
- Rehabilitation of Injuries and Medical Conditions
Education of Athletic Trainers
Athletic trainers are required to obtain a master’s degree in athletic training or a related field in order to sit for their board of certification exam. Their education includes clinical and didactical components to provide hands-on experience that helps to prepare students as they transition from a student into a young professional. An athletic trainer is required to complete and pass the Board of Certification Examination in order to become a certified athletic trainer.
To keep their certification, each athletic trainer is required to complete various continuing education units focused on the different domains of athletic training and required skills.
To learn more about the education of athletic trainers, you may visit: https://www.nata.org/about/athletic-training/education-overview
Responsibilities of Athletic Trainers
Athletic trainers have numerous responsibilities during their day-to-day duties. On top of conducting the operation of the athletic training facility, athletic trainers’ other responsibilities may include but are not limited to:
- Prevention of athletic injuries & conditions
- Evaluation and assessment of acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions
- Immediate care or injuries and medical conditions
- Treatment, rehabilitation, and recognition of injuries and medical conditions
- Organization and administration
- Professional development
Guide to Athletic Training Services
The Guide to Athletic Training Services (pdf) is an infographic created by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association that describes the qualifications of athletic trainers and the clinical tasks they perform when providing high-quality health care.
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). Learn more about the certification of athletic trainers.
- Athletic trainers are qualified to apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI) as mid-level health care professionals. The taxonomy code for athletic trainers is 2255A2300X.
Athletic Trainer vs. Personal Trainer
Athletic trainers are sometimes confused with personal trainers. There are large differences in the required education, necessary skillset, and the daily job duties that are required of both of these professions. Athletic trainers must complete a master’s degree program and then sit for their Board of Certification Examination in order to earn their certification and become a Certified Athletic Trainer (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.
To learn more about athletic trainers and the athletic training profession, please visit the National Athletic Trainers’ website about athletic training: https://www.nata.org/about/athletic-training.