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Athletic Training 101

Athletic trainers are highly trained healthcare professionals who, as part of a healthcare team, provide services such as primary care, injury and illness prevention, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic interventions and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses.  They specialize in the care and prevention of athletic injuries.  Athletic trainer responsibilities can vary based on their position; an athletic trainer in a clinical setting will have a very different position than one in a traditional athletic setting.  While one athletic trainer may focus on the care and prevention of athletic injuries alongside the field of play, another may focus on taking patient histories and supporting a physician in their practice.  Although Athletic trainers focus on athlete care, they are not personal trainers who focus on fitness.  Let’s take a moment to clarify some athletic trainer responsibilities.

How does an athletic trainer help with injury prevention?

Athletic trainers tackle injury prevention from many different angles.  They may design wellness education modules, examine equipment, review emergency action plans, prepare medical kits and help shape safety policies and procedures.   If they are in an athletic setting, they may monitor practices and games and keep an eye out for hazards that may lead to an injury.  In an industrial setting they may examine the manufacturing floor to minimize hazards and improve ergonomics, while tracking common injuries to design preventative procedures.

How does an athletic trainer diagnose an injury?

The evaluation of an injury can include several different components, such as taking a history of the patient’s condition, visually inspecting and physically palpating the impacted area of the body and completing functional and stress tests.  The athletic trainer than formulates a clinical impression by interpreting the signs, symptoms, and predisposing factors to determine the appropriate course of action such as returning to play or seeking further care.  An athletic trainer may then refer the patient for additional testing or to see a clinician, as needed.

How does an athletic trainer assess and treat an injury?

Athletic trainers are unique in that they are often the first healthcare professional a patient sees after an injury occurs.  Whether they are on the sidelines of an athletic event or in a clinic at the patient’s employment setting, athletic trainers can quickly assess injuries.  Having immediate access to a healthcare provider is a great benefit to both the patient and the patient’s employer, whether the patient is an athlete or firefighter or anyone in between.  The athletic trainer may refer the patient to a doctor, or they may provide treatment immediately.  Treatment may include stabilizing an emergency situation, providing bracing or taping of an injury, or many other options.

What is the role of an athletic trainer in rehabilitation?

There are not many healthcare providers who specialize in athletic injuries and rehabilitation.  Traditional physical therapy offices often cater to older individuals who may be recovering from joint replacements or hip fractures, not necessarily athlete care.  Active individuals recovering from an injury can struggle with finding a practitioner who understands their active lifestyle.  Here is where athletic trainers come in.  Athletic trainers don’t just focus on the care and prevention of athletic injuries, they also specialize in rehabilitation.  They can help an athlete or other active individual create a rehabilitation plan to return to their activity safely and comfortably.


As experts in the human musculoskeletal system, athletic trainers are perfectly poised to support patients with active lifestyles whether they are athletes, performers, military personnel, or theme park employees.  If athletic training is a career interest, we’d love to talk with you!  With a professional MSAT degree and post-professional DAT degree option, the University of Idaho can help you launch into the profession or further your career. 



MSAT Rolling Application Deadlines:
Priority application deadline: Nov. 15
Secondary deadline: Jan. 25
DAT Application Deadlines:

Only one for Summer admissions: April 15 each year


First day of classes and Summer semester dates:
MSAT: June 3- August 2nd 2024
DAT: July 1st through July 26th 2024

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