The Need to Promote the Profession

5 Jan

Athletic training is a behind the scenes health care profession.  ATs often work long before practice and games start and often long after the practices and games are over.  Because of this behind the scenes aspect of the profession, people who are drawn to athletic training are often humble professionals who shy away from attention and the limelight.  This humble, hard-working nature of ATs often means that we miss opportunities to promote the profession.  We don’t like to bring attention to ourselves and we often don’t want to be perceived as someone who strokes their own ego.  ATs are also service-oriented people.  We love to help those who need help and get a deep personal satisfaction in helping others.

In my opinion, our humble, service-oriented nature has slowed our growth within settings who need us most.  This is particularly true in the secondary school setting where school administrators, athletic directors, school boards and booster clubs must all see the need to have the services of an AT.  So many of these groups are ignorant of unique skills of an AT and therefore don’t see the need.  The only people to blame for the public ignorance of the skill set of athletic trainers is athletic trainers.  Because it is in the character of an AT to be behind the scenes, serve the needs of others and avoid attention, we haven’t taken the opportunities to promote the profession.

Another obstacle that I see in the promotion of athletic training is a numbers issue.  According to the December, 2010 NATA Membership Statistics found on the NATA.org website (members only section), there are 14,443 ATCs work in the traditional sports setting (Youth/Rec/Amateur sports teams, Secondary Schools, College and Professional).   There are another 13,000 ATCs working in a vast array of “non-traditional” settings and many of those settings require another credential (i.e. PT or PA).  In total, there are only 27,270 ATCs in the US.  The AT interaction with the general public is much less than other health care providers such as Physical Therapy who employed 185,500 PTs in 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Because of our humble nature and relatively few numbers, ATs must be more proactive in promoting the profession.  I firmly believe with every fiber in my body that every high school athlete in the US should have access to an ATC!  But with 7,000 ATCs in the high school setting and over 19,000 secondary schools sponsoring high school athletics, we fall well short of that ideal.

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