Athletic Medicine Home

Contact Information

Christina Scherr, MEd, ATC
Phone: (858) 780-2000 ext 3100
Fax: (858) 780-2054

What is an Athletic Trainer, (AT)? 

Athletic Trainers are not personal trainers.

Athletic Trainers (ATs) are certificated, multi-skilled health care professionals who practice in the field of sports medicine.  An athletic trainer specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of muscle and bone injuries and illnesses, and is educated in emergency care for catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries, sudden cardiac arrest, heat illness and concussions. 

Athletic Trainers:

  • Must obtain, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from an accredited university or college and complete appropriate clinical training (this requirement will change to a Master’s degree soon). 

  • Must pass a comprehensive exam to earn the athletic trainer (ATC) credential.

  • Must keep their knowledge and skills current by participating in continuing education.

  • Must adhere to standards of professional practice set by one national certifying agency and to a national code of ethics.

Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings, including schools, colleges, professional sports, clinics, hospitals, corporations, industry, performing arts venues, municipalities (e.g. fire and police departments), and the military.

(Differences between an "Athletic Trainer" and a personal "trainer")

Athletic Training Education

Per the NATA

Athletic training education uses a competency-based approach in both the classroom and clinical settings. Using a medical-based education model, athletic training students are educated to provide comprehensive patient care in five domains of clinical practice:

  • prevention

  • clinical evaluation and diagnosis

  • immediate and emergency care

  • treatment and rehabilitation

  • organization and professional health and well-being.

The educational requirements for CAATE-accredited athletic training education programs include acquisition of knowledge, skills and clinical abilities along with a broad scope of foundational behaviors of professional practice. Students complete an extensive clinical learning requirement that is embodied in the clinical integration proficiencies (professional, practice oriented outcomes) as identified in the Athletic Training Education Competencies (PDF).

Students must receive formal instruction in the following specific subject matter areas identified in the Competencies:

  • Evidence-based practice

  • Prevention and health promotion

  • Clinical examination and diagnosis

  • Acute care of injury and illness

  • Therapeutic interventions

  • Psychosocial strategies and referral

  • Health care administration

  • Professional development and responsibility

(Source: CATA)




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