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Education and Awareness of Athletic Training as a Profession

By Joni L. Cramer Roh, EdD, LAT, ATC

For decades Athletic Trainers (ATs) have been providing the public with an understanding of our profession.  Over the more recent years, with the changes in legislation, local and state laws, the athletic training profession has been better understood, yet the profession is not clearly understood by all.  Our profession is doing a great job, but there is still room to help promote awareness of the athletic training profession.

Recently, some of my undergraduate students in an accredited AT program and I went to a middle school (grades 6-8) to talk to the students about athletic training as a career. We provided the students with a little background of our education, clinical responsibilities, salaries and places of employment.  Prior to the presentation, a simple question was asked whether anyone knew what an AT did.  As most would guess, we were stereotyped as a fitness or personal trainer.  This was really not too surprising as that is what the students knew from their daily lives.  Many of their parents would go to a gym, workout and talk about having a trainer.

One may ask why we went to a middle school instead of a high school to educate the students about careers.  The answer is fourfold.  First, the teachers asked for parents to come to the schools, do a presentation and discuss their careers so students could be exposed to a variety of professions.  Second, by the time students enter high school, it is necessary to already have an idea of their possible profession. This is so they can  take classes at the high school level to prepare for that particular path (with so many Advanced Placement courses in the high school that are available, it is necessary to start with prerequisite courses, etc., as early as 9th grade). Third, my students are in the Kappa Omicron Nu (KON) honor society for the Human Sciences.  One of the national initiatives is called Kids and Careers, and this presentation supported such an initiative.  Furthermore, this supports the Athletic Trainer awareness initiative.

Some of you may be aware that athletic training has recently adopted a program that promotes healthcare professions to high school students around the country.  There are currently 450,000 kids involved, according to Michael Goldberg, District 2 Director.  However, as I previously mentioned, it is important to consider educating individuals prior to high school so that students can have the proper sequencing of courses.  Consider how you can reach the middle school youth and promote athletic training awareness