What You Need to Know About Certified Athletic Trainers

The purpose of this article is to provide information to athletes and parents about the knowledge and experience required for a sports trainer to use the coveted designation of ATC.

Certified Athletic Trainers are highly skilled and educated professionals who specialize in the area of athletic health care. They work right along with doctors as well as other health care professionals as part of a team in athletic health care in schools, colleges, universities, in professional sporting programs, clinics for sports medicine, as well as other settings where athletic health care is needed.

Education for Certification as Athletic Trainer:

A bachelor’s degree in health, athletic training, exercise science, or physical education is required to become a Certified Athletic Trainer. Other areas are human anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, athletic training, psychology and counseling. During their training programs they will also participate in a great deal of clinical work with athletic teams with the right supervision.

Becoming Certified:

To become a Certified Athletic Trainer, individuals must fulfill all the requirements established by the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification, Inc. The examination for certification is administered by NATABOC and consists of a multiple choice written exam, and a practical exam which is intended to evaluate the skills needed for athletic trainers.

It also has a written simulation exam that tests the applicant’s ability to make decisions during athletic training situations, which helps to determine whether the trainer will be able to resolve cases that are similar during the time they are practicing.

Here is a list of the five domains covered under the exam:

  • Athletic Injury Prevention
  • Recognizing, evaluating and immediate care for athletic injury
  • Reconditioning and rehabilitation after athletic injury
  • Administering health care
  • Professional development and responsibility

After passing the certification exam and proving that they possess the required knowledge and skills in these five domains, individuals can then use their designation as ATC.

A Day in the Life of Certified Athletic Trainers:

You can expect that each day for an ATC will vary depending on the place of their employment, the level of competition. For instance, athletic trainers in the high school setting may spend a portion of their day teaching classes. It can be a balancing act trying to wisely manage their time ensuring that students receive quality instruction in the classroom and athletes receive quality health care during athletic events.

Prior to each practice session, the ATC will tape, bandage, brace and wrap athletes to protect against injury. During practices, they will continually evaluate injuries to determine whether or not the athlete needs the services of a doctor, or if standing orders are needed to manage minor injuries. They also must assure that there is good communication between athlete, family, coach and physician when they are injured to determine when it is appropriate for them to attend practice again.

Certified Athletic Trainers are specialists in preventing, recognizing, and rehabilitating injured athletes. They are well trained to administer first aid and immediate emergency care and operate under the watchful eye of licensed doctors as they use what they know to develop a program of treatment influenced by medical, sports, and exercise sciences.

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