Athletic Training

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Major in Athletic Training

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“God wants you to use your gifts for his glory…to benefit those around you and to bring him honor… to steward your gifts, not waste them.”  ~Stephen Altrogge

Athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, treatment and rehabilitation of various athletic injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers are multi-skilled healthcare professionals who work to maintain and advance the physical strength and well being of their clients. They are set apart from a personal trainer by their higher levels of education and job duties/requirements, and unique from physical therapists in that they work under a licensed physician and do not diagnose or treat patients to the same degree of independence. 

Those with a passion for sports and an interest in applied science and medicine will naturally be drawn to this field. Because technology, skills and techniques in this profession are constantly changing, on-going education is often a requirement for the job. Therefore, it helps to be a driven, lifelong learner with a desire for excellence. In addition, it is preferable that athletic trainers have some combination of the following skills and personal traits

  • A caring, empathetic, positive attitude
  • Good listening skills and attentiveness to detail
  • Ability to solve problems and make confident, accurate assessments
  • Self-motivation and an independent work ethic
  • Emotional control under stressful or emergency situations
  • A balance between compassion/patience and a drive for success
  • A decent level of physical fitness (able to move or lift a client, stand for long periods of time, etc.)

Often acting as a liaison between athlete and physician, an athletic trainer needs strong interpersonal and communication skills. In addition, flexibility is helpful since varying degrees of travel and abnormal work hours (evenings and weekends) are the norm. 

Once immersed in an athletic training major you can expect to receive professional instruction in a host of areas such as healthcare administration, acute injury and illness care and therapeutic intervention.  Hands on, clinical education helps to round off and enhance your learning, and though not required in order to succeed in this field, a surprising 70% of athletic trainers end up going on for higher-level learning. In addition to your core classes, other courses you may take include:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Emergency Response Training
  • Nutrition

With a 21% growth rate in athletic training jobs, the hiring prospect after college is optimistic! Athletic trainers are in growing demand nearly everywhere you find active people. Traditionally found in elementary, high school and collegiate-level athletic programs, a growing number of trainers are being hired in areas such as military, law enforcement and the performing arts.  Even NASA and the FBI have begun hiring athletic trainers to help with the prevention and treatment of injury common in these at-risk, high-performance fields. Other employment niches include:

  • Hospitals or physician offices
  • Fitness or sports medicine centers
  • Community or independently owned youth leagues or sports facilities
  • Professional sports teams
  • Research labs

If a medically related, service oriented career appeals to you, and you’re excited about the prospect of promoting health and improving physical outcomes then look no further. As an athletic trainer you may be the person who inspires another to overcome obstacles and find strength to persevere and achieve their God-given potential!

A Future in Athletic Training

By Amber Gragert

A person with a love of athletics and health & wellness, and an interest in how the two mesh together - is probably the exact person who should look into majoring in athletic training. This may not be the most glamorous of positions in athletics or the medical community, but it is very much a necessity in both fields. In a fast-paced technology driven world we need more people like athletic trainers whose goal is whole body balance and health.

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating muscle and bone injuries and illness. They help to heal and achieve full body potential for their clients who are from all walks of life. They help heal through working with clients through therapeutic exercises and nutrition. When an athlete gets injured on the field, an athletic trainer is the person everyone looks to for their quick diagnoses of the injury and for answers on how to best treat the injured player. But that's not all athletic trainers do. They also assist gym goers in properly using equipment to strength train and use methods like massage and resistance training to strengthen weak backs, shoulders, knees, etc. All in an effort to help clients attain better mobility and health within their muscular and skeletal systems. This work also educates clients on how to prevent common injuries like torn ligaments and inflamed disks or help heal said injuries.

To become an athletic trainer, a bachelor’s degree is required; and, depending on the state in which you reside, you may also be required to obtain a license or certification to work as one. This major is all about kinesiology and biometrics. You will study subjects like sports psychology, medical ethics, as well as bandaging and strapping. Those are in addition to your classes in biology, mathematics, sociology, psychology, nutrition and, of course, kinesiology. In your studies, you will learn to assess an injury through observation and palpitation (by touch). You will also have to complete clinical rotations to get hands-on experience and training and then pass the entry level standard Board of Certification (BOC) Exam.

Some key and helpful traits of someone looking into athletic training as a major and future profession are patience and caring, compassion, highly motivated, good communication and problem solving skills and being solution driven. Being an athletic trainer is not limited to just gym time and weight lifting. They work closely with other healthcare professionals such as chiropractors, acupuncturists and physicians. This profession requires daily professional interaction with people - often highly motivated patients like athletes, so people skills are a key element to success in this line of work. There is also some pressure involved in situations like on-field examinations.  It has potential to take you on the road and require travel time with a team of athletes - so flexibility and a sense of adventure would be a bonus in these instances.

People in this day and age are increasingly on the move. When activity increases, risk of injury also increases. This is where the work of an athletic trainer comes into play.

Examples of employment opportunities are:

•  High School/Colleges/Universities

•  Professional Sports

•  Sports Medicine

•  Physicians' Offices/Hospitals

•  Military Bases

•  Athletic Training Education Programs

•  Performing Arts Companies