……..Said no Athletic Trainer ever!!!!
So who are athletic trainers and what do they do? According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), athletic trainers are healthcare professionals that are clinically and academically qualified to medically treat patients and clients of all ages in any physical setting. Athletic trainers are part of a team of healthcare professionals; they practice under the direction of, and in collaboration with, physicians.
What is your mental image of an Athletic Trainer? Let’s examine some of the myths and misconceptions about athletic trainers perpetuated in athletic culture:
1. Athletic trainers are glorified personal trainers.
Athletic trainers are recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as allied health care professionals that specialize in the prevention, assessment, immediate care, and rehabilitation of injuries that results from physical activity. Unlike the personal trainer or “trainer” as many of us have been referred as, our primary function is not to prescribe and monitor changes in an individual’s specific exercise program. An athletic trainer is an individual that meets the qualification set by the state licensure and/or the Board of Certification, Inc, coordinating care with physicians and other allied health care professionals.
2. Athletic trainers only work with athletic teams.
According to the NATA, over 50 percent of athletic trainers actually work outside of the school setting. Settings include colleges, professional sports, clinics, the arts, hospitals corporations, industry and military to name a few. Athletic trainers provide physical medicine and rehabilitative services to individuals of all ages not just athletes. Our work settings are continuously growing, but the misconception still remains that we are pigeon holed to the “traditional setting.” AT’s are beginning to be utilized in settings that have not been common to our core. Athletic trainer have the ability to be able to think outside the box and apply knowledge and their skill sets to help everyday people.
3. Athletic trainers just need to complete a basic certificate to practice.
Athletic trainers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, and pass a comprehensive exam before earning an ATC credential. All certified and/or licensed athletic trainers must have a bachelor’s degree from a CAATE-accredited college or university. Unlike personal trainers that may become certified by varying agencies with various requirements, athletic trainers must adhere to professional standards of professional practice set by one national certifying agency (Board of Certification). There is a significant difference in the education, skill set and job duties of an athletic trainer versus that of a personal trainer. Athletic training uses a medical model for professional education that includes both didactic and clinical education.
4. Athletic trainers just tape ankles and hand out water.
Athletic trainers are in high demand because of their ability to multi-task and flexible knowledge regarding varying medical issues. We are trained to deal with chronic and acute healthcare issues while functioning under the supervision of a physician. According to the NATA, “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.”