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Journey to Becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer

What are Certified Athletic Trainers?

Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education, training and the state’s statutes, rules and regulations.  As a part of the health care team, services provided by athletic trainers include primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.  The NATA Code of Ethics states the principles of ethical behavior that should be followed in the practice of athletic training.

Athletic trainers are sometimes confused with personal trainers. There is, however, a large difference in the education, skillset, job duties and patients of an athletic trainer and a personal trainer. The athletic training academic curriculum and clinical training follows the medical model. Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program, and 70% of ATs have a master’s degree. 

What do ATCs do?

ATCs complete a variety of tasks, which frequently occur at the same time, that include but are not limited to:

  • Examination
  • Diagnoses
  • Treatments
  • Rehabilitation
  • Acute or chronic injuries
  • Medical conditions
  • Injury prevention
  • Concussion management

Throughout the more recent years ATCs are pairing with physicians to evaluate, create and execute patient goals in clinics, offices, and even operation rooms. 

Here at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, ATCs are utilized throughout the entire rehabilitation process, with added emphasis on the return to sport/play program.

Journey to Becoming an ATC

The journey to becoming an ATC begins with a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited school. Throughout the four years of undergraduate school, many programs include clinical rotations that allow students to apply their education in a variety of settings. In more recent years, 5-year Master programs have become more popular as they allow the student to graduate with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, as Master’s degrees are becoming widely required by hiring companies. Once the undergraduate or 5-year Master’s degree is completed, the student then has to register to sit for the Board of Certification Exam, which ultimately determines if they receive their “ATC” credentials! Once the BOC has been passed, the now certified ATC must be licensed by their state, unless they live in an unregulated or unlicensed state.

After the certification process, the ATC must continue to pursue continuing education units (CEUs) in order to maintain their credential throughout their years of practice. 

Where do ATCs work?

ATCs work in a variety of settings including, but not limited to:

  • Secondary schools (middle and High)
  • Colleges
  • Physician offices
  • Physical therapy clinics
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Inpatient clinics
  • Minor and major sport leagues
  • Operating rooms
  • Recreational sports
  • Olympic settings
  • Dance studios
  • Military
  • Government and so much more!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the athletic training programs at LSTC!

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