Athletic Training Education Programs

October 23, 2011

Athletic Trainers are healthcare professionals that hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, are nationally certified, and in many states licensed as healthcare providers. But what goes into educating a future athletic trainer? What background does that Certified Athletic Trainer possess?

There are plenty of athletic trainers in the workforce currently who have a vastly diverse education that has changed greatly in the last several years. It is debated among professionals as to whether the changes made have provided the best opportunitiy for athletic trainers and has produced better athletic trainers. Previous to the 2000’s one could become a certified athletic trainer by completing an internship and accumulating clinical hours before sitting for the national examination.

Today, in order to become a Certified Athletic Trainer, an individual must graduate from an accredited education program. These programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). There are two different types of a programs one can attend. The most common is a bachelor’s degree program that must take a minimum of 4 consecutive semesters (2 years). The other is an entry-level master’s degree program that also takes place over a 2-year period.

I will highligh below the education that I received at Southeast Missouri State University. Many of the programs will follow a similar course selection, but each program does have some leeway in order to set up their programs the way they see fit. They have criteria they have to meet, but it is left up to them to determine how!

Classes at Southeast Missouri State included the following subject material:

  • Orthopedic evaluation of lower extremity, upper extremity, and spine injuries
  • General medical conditions and head injuries
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Resistance Training Principles
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Rehabilitation of Athletic Injuries
  • Pharmacology
  • Administration of Athletic Training

In addition, we had practicum classes where we took that knowledge learned in lectures and utilized it in a hands-on lab setting. Connected to these classes were also clinical experiences where we worked under the direction of a clinical instructor. Many of our clinical assignments were done in the athletic training room as a part of the Division One athletic department. We also had a clinical assignment at a local high school along with several smaller rotations in other health settings.

Lastly, our program required a 6 week internship which we completed during the summer prior to our final semester. This was different from our clinical assignments because during our internship we were working full-time in our chosen setting rather than the 20 hours a week that we did during our clinical assignments.

Many people do not realize the education that an athletic trainer requires. Hopefully this provides a better idea of what is involved and shows that a Certified Athletic Trainer is a qualified healthcare provider capable of recognizing and managing many different injuries and conditions.


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