What is Athletic Training?

Athletic Trainers 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 work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes.  For the state of Kansas, Athletic Trainers must be licensed to practice by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts.  Athletic Trainers contribute to a cost-efficient health care system by emphasizing injury prevention and injury evaluations that prevent unnecessary trips to the emergency room.  In addition, they focus on restoring the patient to good health and quick/safe return to activity through aggressive, functional rehabilitation.

As part of a complete health care team, the Certified Athletic Trainer works in cooperation with other health care professionals, athletic administrators, coaches, and parents to prevent, recognize, manage, and rehabilitate injuries that result from physical activity.

An ATC’s day may include preparing athletes for practice/competition (i.e. taping, bracing), evaluating injuries to determine their management and possible referral, and developing conditioning and rehabilitation programs to safely return athletes back to participation.  Athletic Trainers improve functional outcomes and specialize in patient education to prevent injury/re-injury.

Athletic Trainers vs. Personal Trainers

Athletic Trainers are sometimes confused with personal trainers.  There is, however, a large difference in the education, skill set, job duties and patients on an athletic trainer vs. a personal trainer.  The athletic training academic curriculum and clinical training follows the medical model.  Athletic Trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program and 70% of ATs have a master’s degree.

Where does an Athletic Trainer work?

Athletic Trainers treat a range of patients and can work in a variety of settings.  Regardless of their practice setting, athletic trainers practice according to their education, scope of practice and state practice act.  Historically associated with college and professional athletics, the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) of today has become prominent in many settings including:  high schools, outpatient rehabilitation centers, physician offices, military services, performing arts, corporate fitness, and youth sport settings.

What education does a Certified Athletic Trainer need?

Students who want to become certified athletic trainers must earn a degree from an accredited athletic training curriculum and meet the requirements set by the Board of Certification.  Education programs use the medical-based model including formal instruction in areas such as:  Injury prevention, First Aid and Emergency care, Assessment of injury, human anatomy and physiology, therapeutic modalities, and nutrition.  Classroom learning is enhanced through extensive clinical education experience in a variety of health care settings.

The current minimum requires a bachelor’s degree, however it was recently decided that the profession will transition to a master’s degree level minimum within the next several years.  After candidates have met the curriculum requirements, they must pass a national certification exam.  Those who become certified must meet continuing education requirements meant to ensure that ATCs stay current in the advancements of athletic training and continue to develop evidence-based skills and techniques.  HaysMed Sports Medicine staff serves as adjunct clinical instructors in the Ft. Hays St. University Athletic Training Education Program.