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Athletic Trainers practicing within the hospital, collegiate, industrial, youth sports and physician extender settings.  Other settings include, but are not limited to, high school, military, clinical, and professional sports.

The Michigan Athletic Trainers' Society (MATS) is an organization comprised of certified athletic trainers (ATC's), non-certified athletic training students, and other health care professionals. Together, we strive to improve the quality of health care for the general population through continued education and research in the area of injury prevention, recognition, treatment, management, and rehabilitation.

One of MATS' goals is to educate the community about our profession and how we can better improve health care. This is partially achieved through public relations via our many active board and council positions and our fellow MATS members. Further assistance can come from you, the public. The more the public is knowledgeable in the health care profession of athletic training, the louder our voices will be heard.

Athletic trainers, supervized by licensed physicians, are professionally equipped to work in hospital and clinical rehabilitation settings, high school athletic and educational settings, collegiate athletic and educational settings, professional athletic settings, industrial settings and military settings. The American Medical Association also recognized athletic training as a health care profession in 1998, and currently, 43 states have some form of regulation for the profession in place.

Everyday there is a chance that you or someone you know may become injured while being physically active, participation in organized sports, or just performing activities of daily living. Such injuries can be minor or life threatening. If an injury is to occur, it's important that proper recognition, treatment, rehabilitation and injury prevention is received.

The following information is intended to educate you on the health care profession of athletic training and why certified athletic trainers' are a valuable resource to any persons, programs, or occupations.

  • The American Medical Association recognized the health care profession of athletic training as an allied health care profession in 1998 (National Athletic Trainers' Association Press Release, July 1998).  Athletic Trainers must graduate with a bachelor's degree in athletic training from an accredited university athletic training program.
  • Athletic trainers must pass a three-part national exam before earning the ATC credential and must complete 80 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain this credential.
  • Currently, 43 states have some form of registration for the health care profession of athletic training (National Athletic Trainers' Association News, January 2005). Michigan is not one of them. This means that an unqualified individual can practice within the profession of athletic training without being certified as an athletic trainer.
  • The credential ATC means Athletic Trainer, Certified. ATC/L means this ATC is practicing in a licensed state. ATC/R means this ATC is practicing in a registered state. The form of registration and how the bill was introduced into law determines how an ATC can practice their profession within the state.
  • No other health care profession requires their members to be competent in the following areas of health care: acute care of injury and illness, assessment and evaluation, general medical conditions and disabilities, health care administration, nutritional aspects of injury and illnesses, professional development and responsibility, psychosocial intervention and referral, risk management and injury prevention, therapeutic exercise, and therapeutic modalities (Principles of Athletic Training, 10th ed., 2000).
  • Athletic trainers are not "personal" trainers.  Athletic trainers practice under the direction of a licensed physician.  Personal trainers do not and may or may not have higher education in health sciences.  They may or may not be required to obtain certification.  They may or may not participate in continuing education and they may become certified by any one of numerous agencies that set varying education and practice requirements.
  • O*Net Online issued an occupational comparisons report in 2003.  O*Net is a federally funded National Consortium, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.  They rate occupations based on job descriptions, occupational duties, and education needed.  Job Zone rating is 1 to 5, one involving little or no preparation and five involving extensive preparation.  Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) is 1 to 9, one is the lowest rating and nine is the highest rating.  The health care profession of athletic training received a Job Zone rating of 5 and a SVP rating of 8.0+.  To compare, the health care profession of physical therapy received the same two equal ratings.
  • In June 1998, the American Medical Association House of Delegates adopted the following statements as policy: "The AMA believes that (a) the Board of Education and the Department of Health of the individual states should encourage that an adequate Athletic Medicine Unit be established in every school that mounts a sports program; (b) the Athletic Medicine Unit should be composed of an allopathic or osteopathic physician director with unlimited license to practice medicine, an athletic health coordinator (preferably an NATABOC-certified athletic trainer), and other necessary personnel;..." (Journal of Athletic Training, September 1999).
  • The AMA's (American Medical Association) recommendation calling for ATC's in all high school programs was originally proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and was adopted without being challenged by the AMA House of Delegates. (NATA Press Release, July 1998) The NATA's Secondary School Athletic Trainers' Committee offers checklists to help identify critical aspects needed to provide a safe environment within a secondary school athletic program. To access this information go to the NATA Web site (www.nata.org).
  • Studies conducted by the NATA (National Athletic Trainers' Association) between 1986-1989 estimated that 1.3 million US high school athletes (1 in 5) are injured each year and more than 60% occur during practices rather than competitions. In 1995, a surveillance study followed up the results of the 1986-1989 studies. Data collected over a 15-year period indicated the risk of catastrophic injury in high school sports to be approximately 1 in every 100,000 participants (Journal of Athletic Training, September 1999).
  • "A 2003 Survey by the NATA helps substantiate the long-standing anecdotal evidence that on-site occupational athletic training programs add value to a corporation.  Some highlights include the following..." (Smith, Kevin.  "Leading the Physical and Financial Health."  San Gabriel Valley Tribune.  2004)
    • 100 percent of companies report that a certified athletic trainer provides a positive return on investment
    • 30 percent of companies polled reported that their return on investment for every dollar was at least $7.
    • 83 percent indicated their return on investment was more than $3.
    • 94 percent of companies indicated the severity of injuries in their workplace decreased by at least 25 percent.
  • The National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technicians (NBCOT) recognizes the health care profession of athletic training. ATC's with six months of experience in the field of orthopedics are qualified to sit for the Orthopedic Technicians Certification exam. Certified Orthopedic Technicians (OTC) can bill for services in a physician's office and operating room. Further information can be found at the American Society of Orthopedic Professionals' Web site www.asop.org. (NATA News, August 2000).
  • Certified Athletic Trainers are found in numerous health care settings including industrial, collegiate, high school, military, hospital, correctional, clinical, and professional sport settings.
  • "The National Athletic Trainers' Association Research and Education Foundation has established a link with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a world-renowned government agency seeking the foundation's input on youth sports injuries. The Foundation has gained the support of the American College of Sports Medicine and is hoping to develop other ties as well. The Foundation, affiliated with the National Athletic Trainers' Association, is dedicated to enhancing healthcare for the physically active through funding and support of research and education. NATA's 19,000-plus certified athletic trainers are experts in providing quality healthcare and applying the latest research and techniques in the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries." (NATA Press Release, March 1999)
  • Other health care providers:

    Emergency Medical Service Personnel (EMT, Paramedic)

    "The educational background of EMS personnel is highly specialized in the care of acute trauma both minor and catastrophic in nature. They are adept at the stabilization and transportation of all injuries for transport to a medical receiving facility. However, it does not provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide for the comprehensive daily injury treatment and rehabilitation of the injured athlete. EMS personnel lack the education and skill to:

    • Perform a functional evaluation to determine whether the athlete may return to participation.
    • Apply preventative taping or protective padding.
    • Develop rehabilitation progressions and protocols.
    • Provide athletes with scientific nutritional information.
    • Analyze the biomechanics of athletic performance and their relationship to the onset of injury.

    While EMS personnel should not be viewed as the sole provider of athletic health care, they are an integral part of the athletic health care team." (Position Proposal Guide for Certified Athletic Trainers in Secondary School Athletics Programs. NATA, December 1999).

    Physical Therapist (PT)

    "While physical therapist and physical therapy assistants are well-educated in the areas of rehabilitation and reconditioning, they lack the formal education of on-the-field evaluation procedures and the provision of immediate first aid for athletic injuries. They may not have extensive experience in preventative taping nor are they likely to be well-versed in providing sports nutrition information." (Position Proposal Guide for Certified Athletic Trainers in Secondary School Athletics Programs. NATA, December 1999).

  • For additional information, please log onto the national website www.NATA.org, district four website www.GLATA.org and state website-Michigan MATSonline.org and view the latest developments within the health care profession of athletic training.

Chad D. Smith, MAE, ATC
Michigan Athletic Trainers' Society Public Relations Chair
East Grand Rapids High School
2211 Lake Dr., SE
Grand Rapids, MI   49506