Athletic Trainers: Using Proper Terminology

September 29, 2013

This has been something I’ve meant to write for some time. It is something that seems to frustrate some within the profession and others are much more nonchalant about it. Well, I’m one who is much more of a stickler.

It is crucial that athletic trainers utilize proper terminology. You want respect from the media and the general public? Earn it. Live it. We must utilize proper terminology each and every day as professionals if we want our profession to get the respect it deserves. It starts with US! I have used the hashtag #AthleticTrainernottrainer numerous times on Twitter and so have other people. I can’t recall where that started, but it was a way for athletic trainers to protest improper terminology by sports commentators. But we as a profession must embrace this. We cannot yell at sports commentators or the media for improper terms and then turn around to do the same thing! We are athletic trainers and we must use that terminology. “Trainer” should not be used. It should not be in our usernames, it should not be in our titles, and we must continue to fight for the proper usage of our title.

ATC is not a noun. It is a credential. So you should never say, “I am an ATC.” No you are not! The proper abbreviation is “AT.” This is another one we must continue to correct and WE must use correctly. If ATC becomes commonly used as a noun, then the BOC and the NATA cannot fight for it being trademarked. It is a credential and should be used as such. It should not be used as a noun in any circumstance.

Athletic Training Room is a commonly-utilized name for our facilities. “Training Room” should not be. There is talk that this should change to “Athletic Training Clinic” or “Athletic Training Facility” or whatever and I think those are all suitable. “Training Room” should not be.

These are just a few examples of where we can make simple changes in our terminology to better our profession. We are Athletic Trainers.

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4 Responses to “Athletic Trainers: Using Proper Terminology”


  1. Truthfully I don’t believe either the title Athletic Trainer, nor Athletic Therapist fully capture all the knowledge and skills that those in the AT profession possess. I’m not sure what title does, but at this point in time, both are too close to the titlles “Personal Trainer”, and “Physiotherapist” for the general population to truly understand how an AT is different. Once both the NATA and CATA figure out an accurate title then maybe the field will become ,much more respected.


    • I think it’s time ATs get over the fact that we have “similar names” as other professionals. We are Athletic Trainers (or in Canada Athletic Therapists). There should be no other profession using that title. Therefore it is distinct.


      • How is that working for you? It was an issue 20 years ago when I started pursuing the field and I see it’s still an issue now. At what point does one decide that maybe the title needs to be changed? We learned to treat the cause in school, not the symptoms, but apparently the governing bodies are still not following that train of thought when it comes to the professional title.


      • Why do you think that changing the name would help? I see it as causing MORE issues because it’s a good way to confuse the general public. It is a slow process, it is coming along.


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