Athletic Training

Athletic training has been recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as an allied health care profession since June 1991.

There are five domains of athletic training listed in the 7th edition (2015) of the Athletic Training Practice Analysis:

  • Injury and Illness Prevention and Wellness Promotion
  • Examination, Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Immediate and Emergency Care
  • Therapeutic Intervention
  • Healthcare Administration and Professional Responsibility

An athletic trainer functions as an integral member of the health care team in clinics, secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports programs, and other athletic health care settings.

Athletic training in the United States began in October 1881 when Harvard University hired James Robinson to work conditioning their football team. At the time, the term “athletic trainer” meant one who worked with track and field athletes. Robinson had worked with track and field athletes and the name “athletic trainer” transferred to those working on conditioning these football players and later other athletes. Athletic trainers began to treat and rehabilitate injuries in order to keep the athletes participating. The first major text on athletic training and the care of athletic injuries was called Athletic Training (later changed to The Trainer’s Bible) written in 1917 by Samuel E. Bilik. Early athletic trainers had “no technical knowledge, their athletic training techniques usually consisted of a rub, the application of some type of counterirritant, and occasionally the prescription of various home remedies and poultices”. In 1918, Chuck Cramer started the Cramer Chemical Company (now Cramer Products) that produced a line of products used by athletic trainers and began publishing a newsletter in 1932 entitled The First Aider.

An organization named the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) was founded in 1938 and folded in 1944. Another NATA was founded in 1950 and still exists. The first athletic training curriculum approved by NATA was in 1959 and the amount of athletic training programs began to grow throughout colleges and universities in the United States. In the early development of the major, athletic training was geared more towards prepping the student for teaching at the secondary level, emphasizing on health and physical education. This program was first introduced at an undergraduate level in 1969 to the schools of Mankato State University, Indiana State University, Lamar University, and the University of New Mexico.

Through the years athletic training has evolved to be defined as “health care professionals who specialize in preventing, recognizing, managing, and rehabilitating injures”. During the 1970s the NATA Professional Education Committee formed a list of objectives to define athletic training as a major course of study and to eliminate it as a secondary-level teaching credential. By June 1982, there were nine NATA-approved graduate athletic training education programs. On July 1, 1986, this work was used to implement athletic training as a major course of study in at least 10 colleges and universities, and to only start the development of the major in a handful of others.

Once athletic training was recognized as an allied health profession the process of accrediting programs began. NATA’s Professional Education Committee (PEC) was the first to take on this role of approving athletic training educational programs. The AMA’s Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) was given the responsibility in 1993 to develop requirements for the programs of entry-level athletic trainers. At this time all programs had to go through the CAHEA accreditation process. A year later CAHEA was broken up and replaced with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which then lead the accreditation process. In 2003 JRC-AT, Joint Review Committee on Athletic Training completely took over the process and became an independent accrediting agency like all other allied health professions had. Three years later JRC-AT officially became the Committee for Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), which is fully in charge of accrediting athletic training programs in the United States. NATA produced the NATABOC in 1969 in order to implement a certification process for the profession for an entry-level athletic trainer. In 1989, became an independent non-profit corporation and soon later changed its name to the Board of Certification (BOC).