Athletic trainers are recognized and hired as health professionals. They play a very important role in the life of athletes and field events of all levels in their capacity to prevent, assess, and help rehabilitate muscular or skeletal injuries that may be the result of injury on the filed. It is observed that these professionals are usually the first healthcare providers that interact with injured athletes. This proximity adds to their responsibility to efficiently diagnose and evaluate the type and extent of injury. They function differently from fitness or personal trainers. The latter are not healthcare workers. They train individuals to become physically fit.
Role of Athletic Trainers
They empower athletes to prevent injuries via the training provided on the proper use of equipment and application of protective devices. Injury prevention applications include the extensive use of tape or bandages and braces, depending on the sport. Tutoring also includes education on what to avoid, and thus, reduce the risk of injury. These professionals operate in sync with physicians, and the extent of the medical supervision largely depends on the club, company or individual athlete they work for. The specific injury treatment options and evaluations are directed in consultation with a physician. Most of them also take on administrative responsibilities like setting or taking a call on budget, equipment purchase, and implementation of various sport related policies.
The Athlete-Trainer Relationship
They are required to frequently interact with physicians and athletes, to administer timely treatments, and ensure the workability of the designed rehabilitation programs and injury-preventive practices. The interaction between the instructor and the athlete borders around health-related issues, and mostly indoors, working with medical equipment. Outdoors, they are expected to ensure that according to the sport or event, they are able to walk, run, crouch, stoop, kneel or crawl, along with the athlete. They are also expected to travel with the sportsman, as and when required.
In a Non-sport Setting
The type of schedule followed and the interaction between the athletic coach and the athlete vary by the work setting. An athletic instructor in non-sport settings follow a routine that requires them to interact with the athlete and health professionals for a fixed number of hours per week, with nights and the weekends off. They are also employed in hospitals and clinics as part of the physiotherapy program, and even spend their time as part of special 'outreach' programs. Outreach programs include training, delivering motivational talks at high schools and colleges, and within commercial businesses in the capacity of a 'fitness guide'.
In High School
Instructors are expected to be present for team practices and events, even if they are scheduled for the evenings or on weekends. In high schools, they contribute to the theory and practical education of effective field training and healthcare. While in some colleges and universities, the trainers work with any one team, there are some instructors in smaller colleges and universities that often work with several teams too. These professionals are an indispensable part of high school and college training camps and competitions. The job involves a lot of stress, and they are responsible for the health, and in a way, also for the careers of their clients. They work under pressure of the desired 'win' that is typical of competition.
Ideally, an athletic trainer should have a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree. They can also pursue a Master's or Doctoral Degree in Athletic Training. There are many states that demand a license or some form of registration too. The Bachelor's degree must be from an accredited university. There are a number of accredited programs available today, online and on campus. These programs educate the interested candidates in classroom and clinical settings. The curriculum includes the study of science and health-related courses, and an in-depth understanding of the human anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics.