Medicine:Athletic trainer

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Athletic trainer Nate Lucero (right) evaluates Houston Astros baseball player George Springer after Springer was hit by a pitch in 2014

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

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, health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and quality of life for patients both of the physically active and sedentary population. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis[3] and intervention of emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations and disabilities."

"Athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as an allied health care profession."

To become an athletic trainer one must have a master's degree from an accredited professional level education program and then sit for and pass the Board of Certification (BOC) examination. By 2023, all accredited professional programs will be required to provide a master's level education. Each state then has its own regulatory agencies that control the practice of athletic training in their state. Most states (43) require an athletic trainer to obtain a license in order to practice in that state, 4 states (Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, West Virginia) require registration, 2 states (New York, South Carolina) require certification, while California has no state regulations on the practice of athletic training.[4] Areas of expertise of certified athletic trainers include:

  • Apply protective or injury-preventive devices such as tape, bandages, and braces
  • Recognize and evaluate injuries
  • Provide first aid or emergency care
  • Develop and carry out rehabilitation programs for injured athletes
  • Plan and implement comprehensive programs to prevent injury and illness among athletes
  • Perform administrative tasks such as keeping records and writing reports on injuries and treatment programs


Services rendered by the athletic trainer take place in a wide variety of settings and venues, including actual athletic training facilities, primary schools, universities, inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitation clinics, hospitals, physician offices, community centers, workplaces, and even the military. Emerging settings for athletic training include surgical fellowship opportunities.[6]

Educational programs

The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) oversees the curriculum standards of all accredited Professional (entry level) and all of the institutions.[7] The standards dictate the content of both didactic and clinical practice portions of the educational program. Content areas include:[8]

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

Post-professional programs

There are several post-professional masters-level athletic training programs. These programs are for credentialed athletic trainers who desire to become scholars, researchers, and advanced practice professionals. Schools with post-professional athletic training masters programs include:[9] A.T. Still University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Illinois State University, Indiana State University, Indiana University, University of Kentucky, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Ohio University, University of Oregon, California University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University, Temple University, Old Dominion University, University of Toledo, University of Virginia, University of Missouri, Weber State University, University of Michigan, University of North Georgia and Winona State University.

There are doctoral programs in athletic training, each with different curricular emphasis.[citation needed][10] Athletic training program in doctoral education is offered by the University of Idaho,[11] Florida International University,[12] A.T. Still University,[10] Indiana State University,[13] Ohio University,[14] Temple University,[15] and Moravian University.[16]

Treatment population and settings

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 sustained 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 clinics
  • Schools (K-12, colleges, universities)
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices
  • Community facilities
  • Workplaces (commercial and government)
  • Military installations and veteran medical facilities
  • Professional sport organizations
  • Performing arts

See also


  1. Delforge, GD; Behnke, RS (1999). "The history and evolution of athletic training education in the United States". J Athl Train 34 (1): 53–61. PMID 16558550. 
  2. "Strategic implementation team defines profession". NATA News (12/2007): 14. 2007. [yes|permanent dead link|dead link}}]
  3. "Role Delineation Study/Practice Analysis". Omaha, NE. 2010. 
  4. "Map of State Regulatory Agencies". 
  5. "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Athletic Trainers". 
  6. Hunt, Valerie (2006). "Education continues to evolve: post-professional education expands". NATA News (January 2006): 14–19. [yes|permanent dead link|dead link}}]
  7. "About CAATE". 
  8. "What is an Athletic Trainer?". The Board of Certification Website. 2007. 
  9. "Resources". 
  10. 10.0 10.1 A.T. Still University (November 3, 2023). "Doctorate in Athletic Training online". 
  11. "Doctor of Athletic Training-EHHS-University of Idaho" (in en). 
  12. Communications, Florida International University-Digital. "Athletic Training" (in en-US). 
  13. "Doctorate in Athletic Training | College of Health and Human Services". 
  14. "Doctor of Athletic Training | Ohio University". 
  15. "Athletic Training DAT | Temple University". 
  16. "Athletic Training | Moravian University".