The Role of Athletic Trainers

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The certified athletic trainer is a highly educated and skilled professional specializing in athletic health care. In cooperation with physicians and other allied health personnel, the athletic trainer functions as an integral member of the athletic health care team in secondary schools, colleges and universities, sports medicine clinics, professional sports programs and other athletic health care settings.

Certified athletic trainers have, at minimum, a bachelor's degree, usually in athletic training, health, physical education or exercise science. In addition, athletic trainers study human anatomy and human psychology/counseling. Certified athletic trainers also participate in extensive clinical affiliations with athletic teams under appropriate supervision.

Certified athletic trainers have fulfilled the requirements for certification established by the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification, Inc. (NATABOC). The certification examination administered by NATABOC consists of a written portion with multiple choice questions, an oral/practical section that evaluates the skill components of the domains within athletic training and a written simulation test consisting of athletic training related situations designed to approximate real-life decision making. This last portion of the test evaluates athletic trainers' ability to resolve cases similar to those they might encounter in actual practice. The examination covers a variety of topics within the five practice domains of athletic training:

  • Prevention of athletic injuries
  • Recognition, evaluation and immediate care of athletic injuries
  • Rehabilitation and reconditioning of athletic injuries
  • Health care administration
  • Professional development and responsibility

    Once athletic trainers pass the certification examination proving skills and knowledge within each of the five domains, they are able to use the designation "ATC."