AT Skill Set – Policy/Procedure Development

22 Mar

If you were to research lawsuits and investigations into sports injuries, the programs that have written protocols, policies and procedures fare the best.  Writing and following these plans protect the athletic program and employees.

One of the first things that ATs establish written protocols and policies covering everything from Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) with the school/team physician to communication between the coaches and AT staff. 

At my institution, policies are approved by the school board and become law.  Violations of polices can be grounds for disciplinary action.  Procedures are more administrative rules and guidelines that should be followed but don’t have disciplinary action for violators.  An example is our Drug Policy, the policy lays out procedures for testing student athletes, disciplinary actions for 1st, 2nd and 3rd violators.  The policy was developed by our school board with direction from legal counsel.  It is difficult to change a policy.  Compared to our concussion management procedure which was developed by the school physician and myself.  This procedure is a continual work in progress as we change things based on developing research.  There is also no provision of discipline for violators.  The team physician and I sit down on a yearly basis to discuss and change as needed this procedure.

In this litigious environment, it is in the best interest of athletic departments to have written policies and procedures in:

  1. Concussion management
  2. Emergency Action Plan
  3. AT Standard Operating Procedures
  4. Lightning Policy
  5. Exercise in Heat
  6. Exercise in Cold in northern states
  7. Athlete Right to Privacy
  8. Coaches training in CPR

ATs are trained in developing these policies and procedures and it is considered part of the AT role of administration.  Most ATEP programs, if not all, are going to offer an AT Administration course and cover these topics.

There are other policies and procedures that athletic departments should develop but they are outside the scope of this blog (i.e. coach hiring/firing, drug policy, student athlete eligibility, etc.).

Future blog entries will cover these policies and procedures more in depth.


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