The Certified Athletic Trainer and the Athletic Training Room

Definition of an Athletic Trainer

  • Athletic trainers (ATs) are healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to direct injury prevention, evaluation, management, and treatment of patients under their care (see Chapter 1 : The Team Physician).

  • ATs work under the direction of physicians, as prescribed by state licensure statutes.

  • They are uniquely qualified, allied healthcare providers who are optimally suited as front-line gate keepers and first responders for all athletic-related healthcare issues.

  • ATs provide services including injury and illness prevention, emergency care, on-field and clinical diagnosis, patient education, and rehabilitation and therapeutic intervention of acute and chronic injuries and illnesses.

  • Apart from responsibilities of injury prevention, evaluation, management, and treatment of patients under their care, communication is one of the most important responsibilities of ATs.

  • They also have a responsibility as a liaison between the physician, patient, coaching staff, and support staff to coordinate effective patient-centered care.

  • Settings

    • Traditional

      • High school, college, and professional sports

    • Nontraditional


  • Graduation from a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) with an accredited, 4-year undergraduate or a 2-year, entry-level masters program to be eligible to sit for the certification exam

  • Curriculum CAATE 2015

    • Risk Management and Injury Prevention

    • Pathology of Injuries and Illnesses

    • Orthopedic Clinical Examination and Assessment

    • Medical Conditions and Disabilities

    • Acute Care of Injuries and Illnesses

    • Therapeutic Modalities

    • Conditioning and Rehabilitative Exercises

    • Psychosocial Intervention and Referral

    • Nutritional Aspects of Injuries and Illnesses

    • Healthcare Administration

    • Professional Development and Responsibility

    • Healthcare Professional Development and Responsibility

  • 70% of candidates possess a master’s or doctorate degree

  • After professional education

    • Residency/fellowship: An emerging aspect of an AT’s education is optional post-professional residencies or fellowships. These programs are designed to provide an advanced level of clinical and didactic education in specialized areas.


  • As of January 2016, all states, with the exception of California, require licensure or registration to practice as an AT.

Roles and Responsibilities of an Athletic Trainer

Domains of Practice, National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), 2015

Injury/Illness Prevention and Wellness Protection

  • Education of patients, coaches, and administrators

  • Implement and assist in the administration of preparticipation physical examination with physicians

    • Preseason musculoskeletal screening

  • Playing surface, environmental, and weather safety monitoring

  • Screening and referral for mental health and psychological concerns

    • Effective recognition and referral to appropriate care providers

  • Supplement monitoring and education and oversight of weight management protocols and safety in weight-class sports

    • Coordination with administration, coaches (including strength and conditioning), sports dietitians, and physicians in developing and implementing monitoring and education

Clinical Evaluation and Diagnosis

  • Acute and chronic injury evaluation on and off the field and effective referral to physician when necessary

  • Concussion evaluation, protocol management, and referral to physician

Immediate and Emergency Care

  • Development and implementation of emergency action plans based on the most up-to-date consensus/position statements and best practices. For a detailed list of up-to-date NATA position statements, please visit .

  • Coordination and pre-event communication with local emergency services departments

  • Prompt and proficient emergency care based on current standards of care

Treatment and Rehabilitation

  • Management and treatment of injuries and illnesses by using evidence-based practices

  • Returning patients to full preinjury function as soon as safely possible

  • Determining the ability to safely return with functional testing

  • Communication and coordination of rehabilitation and transition to full function with strength and conditioning and coaching staff

  • Communication and coordination with external rehabilitation providers when appropriate

Organization and Administration

  • Development and implementation of policies and procedures of the athletic training facility, emergency action plans, and medical coverage of events

  • Maintain professional relationships to coordinate patient care with:

    • Coaching staff, including strength and conditioning staff

    • Administrators

    • Dietitians

    • Psychologists/counselors

    • External providers

  • Timely and accurate medical record keeping

  • Maintenance of supplies and budget of the athletic training facility

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Jul 19, 2019 | Posted by in SPORT MEDICINE | Comments Off on The Certified Athletic Trainer and the Athletic Training Room

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