This March, we proudly celebrate NATM: National Athletic Training Month.
NATA (National Athletic Trainers’ Association) created this recognition in March of 2000 to spread awareness about the important work athletic trainers do every day to keep their athletes safe and healthy.
James Shipp, ATC – Chief Operating Officer, A-G Administrators
Here at A-G Administrators, we are fortunate to know first-hand about the incredible commitments athletic trainers (ATs) make to their student-athletes and athletic programs because of two very different vantage points:
- ATs have the same goal to mitigate risks associated with injuries as we do; and
- ATs are a large part of our A-G staff, including James Shipp, who is not only our Chief Operating Officer but also a Certified Athletic Trainer
National Athletic Training Month is the perfect time to express our praise and support of these hard-working professionals.
All in a Day’s Work
Approximately 70% of ATs have a master’s degree and have studied biology, anatomy, nutrition, sports medicine, or kinesiology. To practice as an AT, they must additionally graduate from a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)- accredited athletic training program and pass the certification exam. ATs retain this certification with continuing education classes throughout their career.
As healthcare professionals, ATs work with both athletes and a team of physicians, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, and others to prevent, evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate the athletes’ injuries and other medical conditions.
Their responsibilities can start as early as 5:30 a.m, and may end long after the sun has set. They include:
- Providing injury prevention modalities such as therapeutic exercise and prophylactic taping and wrapping
- Assessment of concussion and implementation of return-to-play protocols
- Administrative tasks, such as record keeping, inventory and budget management, and event risk management
- Development/ coordination of programming to address the physical, nutritional, environmental, and mental health needs of their student athletes
- Communication with all necessary personal (other healthcare providers, coaches, parents, academic support, etc)
- Rehabilitation and return-to-play progression of athletic injuries
- Prevention and care of heat related injury and illness
- Coordination of pre-participation physicals and athletic-injury medical appointments
- Travel with team to out-of-state (and sometimes out -of country) sporting events to provide continuity of healthcare and injury prevention
- Filing of athletic insurance claims and communication with insurance providers – such as A-G!
These responsibilities take place indoors and outdoors in all types of weather. Two important considerations to remember while all this is done are that ATs are routinely exposed to disease or infections and work long weeks, generally more than 40 hours a week. “It’s the hard work, personal risk, and responsibilities like these that we celebrate during National Athletic Training Month,” says James Shipp. “It’s appropriate ATs are recognized this and every March.”
A Career at a Crossroads
However, for all of the dedication that ATs give their athletes and their passion for helping others, ATs are not always given a seat at the table with their athletic administration. That’s why many ATs have been part of the Great Resignation, looking for more recognition, pay, and opportunity. At A-G, we believe it’s time to come together to support hard-working ATs and push for them to receive the appropriate respect and compensation for the vital role they play in keeping athletes safe.
“We have a unique connection with ATs because of their ability to see the complete picture of their athletes’ health and safety along with the management of accident insurance and claims,” explains Shipp. “We value their knowledge and support and are committed to developing processes to give them the best tools such as claims reports by injury to minimize the risk and challenges they face.”
While ATs deserve to be celebrated this March, their hard work is year-round. Make sure to thank them for their ongoing dedication to our athletes’ health and safety. And join the movement to help these unsung heroes get the seat at the table of their athletics administration that they have long deserved.