What is an

Athletic Trainer?

by Melissa French, AT, MS, CKTP

March is National Athletic Training Month. For many years, Certified Athletic Trainers (AT) have been celebrating themselves during the month of March. Each year a different theme is picked to help promote this profession that has been mine since 1995. The slogan for 2018 is “Compassionate Care For All.” Some of the past slogans include, “Your Protection is our Priority”, “Every Body Needs an Athletic Trainer”, “Athletic Trainers Save Lives”, and “Not All Athletes Wear Jerseys.” Earlier in 2018, a manifesto was created to help describe what an AT is. I got goosebumps when I read this the first time. It made me feel very proud. In less than 100 words, it describes exactly who we are and what we do.

“I AM AN ATHLETIC TRAINER. My patient’s well-being is my first priority. I provide thoughtful, compassionate health care, always respecting the rights, welfare & dignity of others. As the advocate for my patient’s best medical interest, I make competent decisions based on evidence based practice. I act with integrity. I fully understand and uphold the NATA Code of Ethics, providing the best possible patient care at all times. I comply with laws and regulations governing the practice of athletic training, and I pledge to maintain and promote the highest quality of health care.” ( www.nata.org )

The road to become an AT has been constantly evolving over the past couple of decades. At minimum, if you know a certified athletic trainer, they have a bachelor’s degree. It is not unusual for athletic trainers to go on to further their education and achieve a master’s degree. Soon students will be required to complete a bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree to become a certified athletic trainer. This is all in an effort to bring more prestige and honor to our profession. During the education process, athletic trainers learn aspects from six different domains, (as noted on the NATA website and the Board of Certification website):

  1. Injury/Illness Prevention and Wellness Promotion
  2. Evaluation, Assessment, and Diagnosis
  3. Immediate and Emergency Care
  4. Therapeutic Interventions
  5. Healthcare Administration and Professional Responsibilities
  6. Education: Mastering Competencies and Continuing Education

Needless to say, certified athletic trainers are very well rounded individuals. There are many different professional settings that you might find an AT: high school/college, physical therapy, hospital emergency rooms, industrial settings, physician’s office, law enforcement/military, the performing arts, and even motor sports. In general, athletic trainers love taking care of people. If you know an athletic trainer, give them a hug, because they have probably put in a long, stressful day’s work.

Thank you to all our OrthoNeuro Athletic Trainers for all you do!

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