Athletic Training Title: Is it Wrong?

October 16, 2011

As has become regular in the NATA News, the monthly newsletter for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, there was a letter to the editor about the term “athletictraining.” Christine Lo Bue-Estes, PhD, ATC is the author of this current letter and I think she has some valid points, but also believe she is wrong inpart as well.

She states that it has grown old to have to defend the term “athletic training” and tell people what an athletic trainer does. I would agree with her and I’m hoping eventually my parents understand this. To some extent they do, but at the same time they struggle with the idea. Many people don’t really understand what we as a profession do. To me, this is a two-sided issue and yes I blame athletic trainers and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association for this to some degree. I would not suggest a name change; but instead we need unity among athletic trainers. We don’t have that. I would say that in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association we have 4 groups.

  1. College and University Athletic Trainers
  2. Secondary School Athletic Trainers
  3. General Healthcare Athletic Trainers
  4. Industrial Athletic Trainers

I think this is a general list and some would fall into multiple groups. But the issue is that these are distinct groups and frankly there is a lot of separation between these groups.

I would say that groups 1 and 2 are comparable and probably the biggest thing that separates them is the budget. I would say that I fall into the Secondary School group and would like to find my way into the College group. We deal with athletes and are responsible for the healthcare of athletes. Much of our job is related directly to athletes and spent in athletic facilities. This, along with professional team athletic trainers, would make up the “Traditional Setting” that the NATA has mentioned before.

Groups 3 and 4 are also somewhat related and I would compile them to make up the “Non-Traditional Setting” group. Their jobs can vary depending on the specific setting and depending on what population they are working with.

Now we know all Certified Athletic Trainers are certified by the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers (BOC) and we know that all athletic trainers must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and many have higher than that. In most states an athletic trainer must be licensed as an athletic trainer by the state. We are all healthcare professionals and we all have a background in orthopedic injuries and rehabilitation. I won’t say this can’t carry over into other professions, but my problem is there are athletic trainers out there who have decided that “athletic training” is much more than athletic healthcare.

In my opinion, this is why the profession does not know what we do or who we are. To some colleagues, we are jacks and jills of all trades. We have no specialty. If we as a profession do not understand what athletic training is, how can we expect the public to know?

Maybe it is time that the “Non-traditional Athletic Trainers” consider moving on to a new name. I have to wonder if what they are doing is truly “athletic training” anymore or is it something else? I know I will be criticized for this and I understand. I will remain here waiting and I will keep my opinion that our profession has itself to blame for the public not understanding what we do. We have tried to become too many things and are slowly losing our identity.


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