About Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize patient and client activity and participation in athletics, work and life. The practice of athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination and diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of emergent, acute, sub-acute, and chronic neuromusculoskeletal conditions and certain medical conditions in order to minimize subsequent impairments, functional limitations, disability, and societal limitations.

The Athletic Training Scope of Practice is defined within two professional publications: the Athletic Training Educational Competencies (Competencies) published by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the Role Delineation Study (RDS) conducted and published by the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC).  Eligibility for the BOC exam is contingent upon completion of a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) that must instruct the Competencies within the curriculum.  Passage of the certifying examination is a requirement for licensure in most states.

Athletic trainers’ work settings can include high schools, colleges, universities, professional sports teams, hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, physicians’ offices, corporate and industrial institutions, the military, and the performing arts. Regardless of their practice setting, athletic trainers practice athletic training (or provide athletic training services) according to their education and state practice act.

While the core documents (the Competencies and the RDS) define the minimal professional preparation necessary for entry into the practice of athletic training, other variables such as individual state practice acts and their implementing regulations must also be considered.  Also, athletic trainers participate in continuing education as part of professional practice requirements.  This continuing education may result in the achievement of additional qualifications and enhanced skill sets.