Found at the intersection of active lifestyles and healthcare, athletic training is a growing career field with ample job opportunities. While many students find this prospect intriguing, they struggle with questions like “What is an athletic trainer’s job description?” and “What degree do you need to be an athletic trainer?” Beyond an understanding of the career, they may also ask “Would this career be a good fit for me?”
Here at the University of Idaho, we’ve helped a lot of students answer these questions, and we’re happy to be able to help you also. If you are wondering if athletic training would be a good fit for you, you’re in the right place!
What do athletic trainers do?
Athletic trainer duties can vary a lot from position to position, but there are some key elements that always remain the same. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), “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.”
Athletic trainers can be found providing emergency care at athletic competitions, taking health histories in physician’s offices, creating safety and injury prevention plans at manufacturing sites, or helping patients rehabilitate after an injury in clinics. In addition to these, you can find athletic trainers performing their duties with dance companies, theatrical productions, theme parks, rodeos, military installations, and everywhere else in between! In layman’s terms, athletic trainers are medical professionals who help physically active patients prevent, recognize, diagnose, treat, and recover from injuries and illnesses.
How do you become an athletic trainer?
To become a certified athletic trainer, a student must graduate from a CAATE accredited professional athletic training program, as well as pass the BOC (Board of Certification) exam. As of this year, starting your professional-level education in a bachelor’s degree is no longer sufficient. Incoming students must now attend a professional-level master’s in athletic training program to qualify to take the BOC exam. After successfully completing the degree and exam, one is considered a certified athletic trainer and may practice athletic training nationwide and is eligible for licensure, certification, or registration in 49 of 50 states.
What are athletic trainer major requirements? At the undergraduate level, you’ll want to prepare for the master’s in athletic training by taking specific prerequisite coursework, such as anatomy and physiology. Be sure to look at the specific prerequisite coursework your program of choice requires.
The University of Idaho master’s program requires:
·Human Anatomy (4 credits)
·Human Physiology (4 credits)
·Biology (1 credit minimum)
·Chemistry (1 credit minimum)
·Physics (1 credit minimum)
·Psychology (1 credit minimum)
·Current First Aid and CPR (AHA or ARC)
At the graduate level, you’ll be required to take advanced anatomy, research methods, pharmacology, and much more!
What qualities are important for an athletic training student?
We’ve had the opportunity to help many potential athletic training students prepare for their career. If you’re wondering if athletic training could be your career, this can be a good place to start. We’ve compiled a list of qualities and attributes we see in successful athletic training students and practitioners. Do any of them describe you?
Caring for others
At its core, athletic training is a healthcare position. As such, those who excel in it are often empathetic and feel a genuine interest in caring for people and helping them realize their goals. Whether they are an elite athlete or a firefighter, a serious injury can be very difficult, especially if the patient previously defined themselves by their sport or profession. A successful athletic trainer brings kindness and understanding to their practice.
Communication and collaboration
For the best patient outcomes, athletic trainers can serve an important role as facilitators of communication and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Whether they are communicating with patients, physicians, or other healthcare professionals, strong communication skills and enthusiasm for collaboration help an athletic trainer facilitate excellent patient care.
Being an athletic trainer means showing up every day, and for every patient. Everybody is allowed a bad hair day, but a bad care day is another story. To offer consistent patient care, an athletic trainer may need to compartmentalize their own emotions to be fully present in the moment. Athletic trainers can find themselves in high-stress situations, whether it is a difficult conversation with a patient with an injury or making split-second decisions in an emergency setting. There isn’t any room for inconsistency.
What is a growth mindset? It relates to how you face challenges. Do you throw up your hands and accept your shortcomings as part of who you are, or do you see your weaknesses as opportunities for growth? Consider these statements.
Fixed mindset: I’m bad at this class.
Growth mindset: This class is hard right now, but as I work through it, this class will get easier.
Fixed mindset: I don’t know how to do this.
Growth mindset: I don’t know how to do this right now, but I’m learning.
We find our most successful students embrace a growth mindset. It is a little like a super-power!
What do you think?
Are you an athletic training major in the making? Hopefully you have a better idea of what athletic trainers do, and what qualities can be beneficial to cultivate. Still have questions? That’s okay too! Please reach out! We’d love to hear from you. Even if you ultimately decide athletic training is not for you, we’d appreciate being a part of your journey.