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Athletic Training, Masters Required

A few months ago the Athletic Training Strategic Alliance announced that the Athletic Training profession was moving to Masters Degree required to practice. A decision that has not yet been fully hashed out or revealed exactly what this new requirement will affect. I for one think it is a step in the right direction (If done correctly) but what changes will this step bring, is it a move to pacify the profession, or is it a legitimate move to grow the profession? There are so many questions about this decision that can send out a myriad of ripples into the Athletic Training community:

Will positions that are Masters required turn into DAT required?

Will the mean salary change?

Is 7+ years to develop this change too slow of a change?

Will more laws come into affect regarding our scope of practice?

Has this change come too late for our profession?

How do those of your reading feel about this change and do you think it will actually do anything to progress Athletic Training?


  • In my opinion, the decision to move to a Masters as the entry level degree has not been shown to be necessary. First, the BOC examination has been proven to be valid and reliable (the BOC utilizes a professional company of psychometricians to ensure this). Second, the BOC examination content is based on a Role Delineation Study that is done periodically (I think every 5 years). This RDS is an in depth analysis of the actual job/duties that ATCs perform in the real world. If on average, 75% of candidates pass the test on the first attempt, then this is a sign that the Bachelor's degree is more than adequate to meet the demands of the workplace. Third, the role of an accreditation body is simply to ensure that all educational programs meet a minimum standard of quality, not to try to influence the market. The CAATE is utilizing its control to attempt to affect supply and demand, salaries, etc. This is not the role of an accreditation body, and the action is based on a few individuals' best guess of what will happen. In the 80s there was a clear separation between the BOC, the NATA and the accreditation agency. This is important to maintain the integrity of each organization and maintain a balance/healthy tension where one cannot have any control over the actions of the other. This no longer exists. The same individuals that have been leaders in one, end up being leaders in the others, and this is not good for the profession. If, graduates with a bachelor's degree were not passing the test in such high percentages, then and only then would an upgrade in the degree be necessary. This is being done just to keep up with the Jones', and for political and market reasons, not for educational reasons.
  • Jose,

    Thank you for the response.Since Masters as the entry level degree in your opinion has not shown itself to be necessary. What do you feel is the next step in moving the profession forward? How do we avoid the pitfalls of keeping up with the Jones'?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • It is the NATAs primary responsibility to promote and grow the profession. They are the "trade" organization and it is within their prevue to implement strategies to move the profession forward. All I'm saying is that BOC exam results is strong evidence that the Bachelor's degree appropriately prepares entry-level professionals and that it is not CAATE's role to implement strategies intended, not to do what is educationally necessary, but to influence something that is outside it's prevue (supply and demand is outside of any accrediting body's prevue). The Masters as entry level is a strategy to decrease supply, to "hope" to affect salaries, and to "hope" to establish a higher standing amongst the other allied health care professions. These ought not to be goals of an accrediting body which is supposed to be politically neutral and only concerned with quality of education. If the quality is already high, one has to come to the conclusion that their motives are motivated by non-educational goals which are outside of their prevue.
  • Jose

    I totally get where you are coming from, I just wanted to know your opinion on what is the next step for us. It seems like so many Athletic Trainers are split on what we need to do to progress whether its changing the name, changing the curriculum, requiring a masters, beginning a union, to no longer working for physical therapy companies. I personally have no clue on what would be best for us as a whole, we need to be more together as a group before we can make any decisions that will make a difference for us. Otherwise,we are just a bunch of individual Athletic Trainers still griping and complaining about the same things over and over again instead of a unified group of Athletic Trainers moving toward the same goals.
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • I don’t believe positions that currently require a Master’s with move to requiring a DAT. Similar to the entry-level Master’s, the DAT is fairly new, uncommon, and unfamiliar. I think the DAT is geared towards those to prefer to teach and research at this time. Currently, the type of Master’s that ATs have vary widely. Only a small percentage have athletic training specific advanced education. I think part of the goal with moving toward the entry-level MS is the unify the advanced education and training that athletic trainers receive going forward. It is a good step, but it will take a while to reap benefits.
    I doubt that the mean salary will change very much overall. We may see an uptick that is setting dependent. HS/Collegiate ATs will always get the short end of the stick. Now that ATs are moving into unconventional settings (military, industrial, performing arts), I don’t believe that entry-level MS will benefit those setting much. Market value for ATs are already above average in those areas.
    I'm skeptical of the decision to move to entry-level MS. I think the main motivation is a part of the work to validate the profession in other people's minds. I don't know if that's a good a reason. I like some of the other decisions that came out such a residency programs, exploring specialization, and true mentorship. We need to move away from expecting entry-level ATs to be fully functioning professionals. No other healthcare profession requires that from their students. That's why we complain that the 5 or 6 semester program does not sufficiently train students for work. I think we would be better off doing the research to validate the skills and education of ATs then lobby that we should be paid accordingly. Instead of asking us to continually obtain more education and skill to receive the compensation we should be recieving now. Injury prevention and in-house care has value and worth. We should focus on identifying that, educating and equipping ATs with that information to lobby for themselves at the negotiating table. We would see the benefits of that sooner than waiting for the perceived effects of entry-level MS professionals.
  • I agree with many of your points Terrica! I really believe the move to a masters is motivated by two points: One, to keep from falling too far behind the PT profession, as they have progressed to an entry-level doctorate. Two, to weed out those students who are using the AT degree as a stepping stone to another profession (PT, PA, MD). It may actually have an indirect effect on increasing salaries,but only because it will decrease output and lead to less AT's applying for the same jobs. In the end, it may be a good thing. However, those who think a masters will improve reimbursement opportunities are kidding themselves. The biggest negative is it will saddle students with even greater debt.
  • Thanks for your adding to the discussion Terricka and Kenneth. So is it pretty safe to say that everyone pretty much is on the same page that the moving to a Masters degree is just as Jose stated earlier, that we are trying to keep up with the Jones'? So now the questions are how do we prevent people using the AT degree as a stepping stone and what is the next step that will bring about some actual positive change in the evolution of Athletic Training? I don't necessarily have the answer to either of those questions but I personally think one thing that can help is our scope of practice needs to be fleshed out more in detail by the government or our bachelors curriculum being restructured before we even move toward a Masters. Cause I personally think it to be a little odd when I look back on my undergrad experience during my clinical rounds having to shadow a Physical Therapist for the rehab portion of it. Why not shadow a fellow Athletic Trainer during the rehab portion of the clinical rotation?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • My concern about all this is monetary, but not in the way the NATA thinks it will work. Entry level masters will have no effect on increasing salaries, in fact it will increase the cost of education without a return on the other side. Teaching is about the only profession where more education/credits means more money, and even that is changing in some areas.

    Educational costs are skyrocketing as it is, and the additional requirement of 2 years will only add the graduating students debt. This will effectively eliminate the GA system in which many of us with masters attend school and defrayed the cost. For an example all we need to do is look at the Jones' we are trying to keep up with.

    I met and married a PT who had her DPT. She had $90K in student debt, and when we met was working for a national PT corporation making very little money for her education. In fact, she took her credits in science and Doctoral level education and got an alternative teaching license making more than she did as a PT. Not all PT situations will pay as poorly for a new grad, but in very few situations are PT's getting the reimbursements the did in the past. In the end they will make more because their services are reimbursable. In many ways the PT educational system is trying to keep up with the Jones' in chiropractic. In so doing are saddling new PT's with debt, and we are about to do the same thing.

    In the end AT education will cost more and the ability to pay for that education will not improve sticking new grads with debt that will not be reimbursed.
  • Audric,

    Looks like I’m a little late to this discussion, but I think this is a topic that gets so many athletic trainers fired up. As a graduate of an entry-level master program, a professor in an entry-level master program and a current student of a DAT program, I believe my opinion is probably just a little bias. I agree wholeheartedly with the transition of athletic training education programs to the Master degree level for various reasons.

    First and foremost, I love athletic training. I believe that the best athletic trainers are those who love the work that they do regardless of the obstacles they may have to overcome. It is frustrating to me as both a practicing athletic trainer and a professor to see students use the Bachelor degree as a stepping stone to another degree such as PT or PA. I believe and have witnessed that students that choose a graduate level education in athletic training are more serious about obtaining a long-standing and dedicated career within the field of athletic training. I also believe that by creating the “clinical” doctorate in athletic training, it will give students options to further their education in a sense that focuses more on “practicing” rather than education or administration that is commonly seen with the PHD degree.

    Secondly, frankly, there are just too many athletic training education programs available at the current moment. When there are such an overwhelming variety of athletic training programs available it is hard to standardize the level of education our students are getting. I recently when to educator’s conference in my state where CAATE presented statistics regarding pass rates regarding various athletic training programs across the country. Statistics showed that there are athletic training education programs still functioning that have BOC pass rates of less than 20%. 20%?!?!? I was MINDBLOWN by this. Not all programs are good programs, let’s just face it. Forcing the field into the Master degree, forces out athletic training programs that cannot meet the basic standards.
    In addition, there is little room for competition. When competition is introduced I believe that students have to work harder. This allows athletic training education programs to get the best quality applicants for their positions and the best quality graduates out of their school. Although our field is based heavily upon observation and practical learning, when have moved past the day and age when that is enough to obtain a highly respected health care degree. And we do want to be respected, right?
    To answer your question, 7 years seems like an extremely long amount of time for the transition to occur. However, it is important to remember the work that it takes to effectively transition education programs into this standard. With this being said, I believe that timeframe gives everyone amble time to prepare and accept the changes. Eventually, long down the road, some positions that require Master degrees may move to ask for Doctoral degrees. I believe that is natural with the progression of education of our field. However, I think it’s important to remember that very few of these of positions that are currently asking for “Master” Degrees are looking for “entry-level Master” degrees. They are looking for certified athletic trainers, likely with Bachelor degrees, that are certified, and have a Masters degree probably acquired from a graduate assistant position. I can speak directly from personal experience, if it is between me and someone who obtained a Master degree in any sort of field via a graduate assistant position, they will get hired over me in a heartbeat. Employers will maybe begin to consider quality over quantity…

    Lastly, before I end my rant :)  I have to agree with John. Although I am supportive of the educational change, I am largely concerned with the monetary aspect. It has been shown that graduates from our entry-level master program typically obtain higher paying jobs after graduation. This would lead me to believe that a Doctoral degree would HOPEFULLY bring more respect and higher salaries for all us. But how much higher? Is a 5K salary increase enough to invest 20, 30, 40K more into your education? It is a tough sell for a student to invest an enormous amount of money into their education for a job that paying 40K. Again speaking from personal experience, my current salary is higher than most of my athletic training peers. My yearly salary is also generously speaking, less than half of the amount of my total student loan debt :( I believe the NATA will have a tough battle on that front…

    I am enjoying hearing all of your perspectives,

    Nikki Stallworth, MS, LAT, ATC
  • John

    This gap that will be created between annual salary and student loan debt how do we bridge it? Do you think there will ever be a potential change in the average salary of the Athletic Trainer? If this is not an option where do you think the profession needs to go to move in a better direction?

    You are never too late to join the conversation, everyone's opinion is welcome no matter how early or late they became engaged in the discussion. As a graduate still paying off student loan debt I definitely understand where most of us sit getting an education to do something many of us love and are passionate about and definitely are not getting reciprocated financially for this passion.
    What do you think should be done to weed out these programs with such low pass rates?

    Another question is how do we prevent people from using Athletic Training as a stepping stone ? Where do we develop the respect to get people pushing to be Athletic Trainers?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • As someone who has taught in both undergraduate athletic training programs (UGATP) and a graduate athletic training program, I believe I am in the unique position to provide some perspective.

    After teaching in GATP for 8 years I relocated to my current position in an UGATP. Students in a GATP come to the program with greater maturity, fewer issues from outside sources (roommates, significant others, general education classes, etc.). I cannot begin to tell you how many times a 2nd semester Jr. or a Sr. level student have come to me and said they don't believe AT is for them. At this point and time they are stuck in a major and it is too late for them to change to something else without having to stay an extra year or so to complete this "new" major. At the GATP with over 150 students, only 2 students left after they started the program because AT was not for them. The other 148 or so GATP students knew and understood what AT is, they were committed to it and are invested in their education.

    Personally, I am offended when a UGATP student tells me he/she is going onto PT, OT, PA, or any other medical profession. In essence, they are using AT as a spring board to go into another medical profession and have no intent on ever using the skills and knowledge they learn as an AT student as an AT. I don't believe it is my job or should be my job to educate student preparing to go into other medical professions. This year alone, of the top 6 students in our program, 4 of them are going into PT or OT. I never had to worry about this problem with students from GATP.

    The argument about increased costs for students to go onto get a master's in AT holds little credibility to me. Many of our better students in the UGATPs are going onto PT, OT, PA, medical school, etc., so they are incurring additional costs. No one seems to care about them. The better students find a way to get it done.

    UGATP students have to not only learn information from their major courses, but also satisfy general education course requirements. They are not able to fully focus on their AT related courses, nor are they able to build a solid scientific base from which advanced AT knowledge can be built upon. Going to a masters degree allow students are not only able to devote all of their attention on their course work. And lets not forget that at the graduate level, many courses are or can be offered at times that do not conflict with clinical experiences. At the undergraduate level, many labs or courses are offered during the late afternoon or early evening hours; thus, cutting into the students' clinical experiences.

    Regarding BOC pass rates let's look at some past history before you make a claim that the "BOC exam results is strong evidence that the Bachelor's degree appropriately prepares entry-level professionals." From the 1980s through the 1990s BOC 1st attempt pass rates hovered in the mid to upper 30% and occasionally slipped into the low 40% region. In the 2000's the 1st attempt pass rates increased slightly, but never getting consistently above 50%. The reason for the increase can be seen in the GATP pass rate compared to the UGATP. (GATPs did not start to become accredited till the early to mid-2000s.) GATP pass rates were around 75%, while UGATP remained in the high 30% to low 40%. Pass rates for UGATP from 2007-2008 to the most recent data available are as follows:

    2007-08 38%
    2008-09 49.8%
    2009-10 42.2%
    2010-11 59.2%
    2011-12 81.3%
    2012-13 79.4%
    2013-14 80.5%
    2014-15 78.9%

    During the same period GATP climbed from a low of 58.8% in 2007-08 to 95% and above since 2011-12.

    I am no statistician, but to see 1st attempt pass rates go from a consistent high 30%/low 40% to almost 60%, then to about 80% in about a 3 year period to me just doesn't seem quite correct. Additionally, prior to 2008, the closest any of my classes of AT students came to a 100% pass rate was 9/10. Since 2008 to the most recent class, I have been involved in 5 classes with 100% pass rates. Several of my athletic training brothers and sisters in AT education have also had multiple 100% pass rates with their cohorts since 2010 especially. Did I suddenly become such a great teacher of AT knowledge and skills? I doubt it! Did our AT education curriculum program suddenly do a better job of educating our students? I doubt that too! With 350+ UGATP, you would need to have the quality of educational programming shift rapidly and almost in unison to effect that sort of change. That is not likely to happen. So then why the greater pass rate? Could it be that the BOC exam has become easier to pass? I don't know??? I just throw that question out there because it is the elephant in the profession!

    No body mentions those AT program that graduate consistently <10 students year after year. How many of those programs have their educational programs simply because they want to the additional work force? Yes, I know that is something CAATE does not want to acknowledge, but let's be honest, it has happened and is happening. By going to the GATP, several UGATPs may decide not to make the move, which removes the work vs education requirement. There is nothing wrong with addition through subtraction. Thin out the poor programs or those who have an ATP just to have it and the whole profession gets stronger, (similar to how my garden vegetables benefit from thinning and pruning.)

    Finally, salaries! It is a sad state when we (ATs), paramedics, and phlebotomists (I think) are the only medical professions that allow a bachelor's degree to be the entry point to the profession. Like it or not, several others health professions and 3rd party payers see us as nothing more than technicians. Even sadder is that many of the ATs I have met and educated present themselves as nothing more than a technician. Salaries will increase when we deal with the supply and demand in our profession and when we deserve the higher salaries. It is not the NATA's job to act as a union for us. I do know that when colleges/universities adapt a medical model vs. the current athletic model the overwhelming percentage of college programs operate under, salaries increase! Maybe there is a lesson there.

    OK, I will get off my soap box.

    Thank you!
    Scott L. Bruce, EdD, AT, ATC
    Assistant Professor/Director of Research
    Athletic Training Program
    Wright State University
    3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.
    Dayton, OH 45435
    [email protected]
  • Ive been in favor of this for some time for a variety of reasons. If we look at the history of the PT profession, you can see that they did this exact thing in the early 90's and progressed to a Ph.D., 12 years later. It has only helped them by streamlining the most serious and best students with an obvious help on base salaries. I feel it will have even a BETTER effect on the ATC profession by "thinning the herd". As old vets like me get close to retire, we will start to see a lower population with higher qualifications. This will cut qualified applicants from 20 to 10 with higher salaries and more education; within 5 years, we may be looking much better as far as job outlook and practice setting.
    My 2 cents?
    Bill McLaughlin, MA, ATC
  • Scott,

    Nothing wrong with a little time on the soap box at all. Everyone of us that's truly passionate about this profession wants to make things happen for the better so we can gain some respect, better wages, and make the future better for our new students.

    Ive noticed that trend of may people noticing that Athletic Training students either jumping ship because they do not think it is what they thought and another group using it as a spring board to another profession. This is definitely a problem in my eyes, its dissappointing to see people use Athletic Training as a step stool to another profession.

    How do we first address this issue so that we don't lose talent in our profession?

    Do we have to change the undergraduate curriculum across the board so that students get a better idea of what Athletic Training has to offer, do we make it more difficult so that those who see it as a spring board won't be able to do so, i guess the better question is since you are an educator what is the first step on the education front that can help eliminate these issues?


    I hear where you are coming from when it comes to using the PT model to gain success. The problem with that is, if we are going to go that route we can't just use education as our only leaning. The laws that involve Athletic Trainers are so vague and limiting its hard for other healthcare providers to even acknowledge us when so many Athletic Trainers have no clue what their own scope of practice is in their state and they dont even follow simple HIPAA laws. So we wind up just looking like an unorganized group of semi-educated individuals. Do you really think that going to a masters level will create more elite Athletic Trainers? What about all of the Athletic Trainers that are in their 20's that just use the profession to hang out at practices and sporting events and toss an athlete the occasional ice bag? What do we do about these inviduals that create that stereotype of the Athletic Training? I ask this because there are way more of these Athletic Trainers than the upper level Athletic Trainer
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • The biggest question i have is in regards to GA's. With most AT's now days getting their masters free through being a GA and being able to diversify in case they want to have a more family friendly job or even bettering themselves with a post professional AT masters, all while gaining valuable experience in the field making their own decisions, its a wonder what will happen to this with most/all programs going to entry level masters. Most colleges can't afford to pay for 5-7 full time AT's and thus will put more pressure on those that are already there. Or cause more poor paying internships to arise and cause a higher turnover/lower quality of care of athletes over the long haul. Could it help with a salary raise? maybe. But it will most certainly lead to more student-athletes per athletic trainer thus a higher burnout rate.
  • Great point! And something to consider when questions about why people use AT as a stepping stone to other professions. In some cases it's less to do with those people not appreciating the profession and more of the profession not meeting lifestyle needs as YPs get older. I doubt that will change a lot if the culture of the profession doesn't change as well.
  • William and Terricka - You both make valid points; however, they are also some of the same arguments we have heard for my entire career for 30+ years. The Post-professional Graduate Athletic Training Programs will go away as they are currently structured and will be a casualty of the decision to change to a Masters degree for the entry point into our profession. I am confident that the athletic trainers in charge of those Post-professional Programs will reset their curriculums and will somehow continue to function as a viable option for athletic trainers into the future. The fact that, using your words, "can't afford to pay for 5-7 full time AT's and thus will put more pressure on those that are already there" doesn't cut it for me. Athletic Training is a health care profession! When a college chooses not to employ the appropriate number of full-time ATs using the excuse that they "cannot afford" the health care professionals, what they are really saying is that they don't value the services we provide or the health and welfare of their student-athletes. It is yet another example why colleges, universities, secondary schools and even professional teams need to utilize a Medical Model for health care and NOT an Athletic Model as has been done since the beginning of athletic training and is still being done in over 98% of the athletic programs across the country. School that do utilize a Medical Model find their athletic trainers have greater job satisfaction, better work-life balance, less turnover and burnout, they feel valued as a health care professional, and supported by their medical supervisors. As the saying goes, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get, what you have always got. If we continue to allow ourselves to be "abused" by college and universities by prostituting our knowledge, skills and abilities, then we will continue to have high turnover, and burnout among our peers.
    Will internships fill the so call "void" left with the discontinuation of graduate assistant positions? Unfortunately, I am afraid it appears they will. These positions are a manner in which colleges and universities can hire "slave labor" cheap, provide someone who is a "certified athletic trainer" to provide coverage of sports and events that are less high profile or low risk sports, and ignore the real issue of providing high, quality health care to all of their student-athletes rather than just the more visible sports. The shame is that as long as there are positions out there willing to pay little for the opportunity for an athletic trainer to work a lot, there will be athletic trainers who will take these positions. (Isn't this the same reason our politicians will not fix the "illegal immigration" problem we face in our country? Companies can get away with hiring cheap labor because there is a supply of individuals who are willing to work these jobs and no one will stand up and say no!)
    Finally, if the YP Committee and the YPs of our profession really want to grab an issue which they can wrap their arms around and make a difference, then I propose this to be that issue. It will not be fixed overnight, but the YPs and their future brethren will be those who will be most affected by the actions of the colleges and universities. Of course, it won't be easy, nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. But look at the alternative - do nothing, continue to get the results and outcomes we have always gotten. Continue to have athletic trainers complain about long hours, low pay, lack of job satisfaction, poor work-life balance, and decreased stature in the eyes of the public of our profession.
    Scott L. Bruce, EdD, AT, ATC
    Assistant Professor/Director of Research
    Athletic Training Program
    Wright State University
    3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.
    Dayton, OH 45435
    [email protected]
  • Scott, i agree that the health care model in a college setting would greatly aid in establishing better work life balance for athletic trainers. Its currently happening in a few places. I doubt that model is feasible in smaller colleges, without some outside help How does this aid full time HS ATs and those w dual roles?
    Yes, internships or residencies will likely replace graduate assistantships in the future. What's the price for an intern w a BS and certified experience as oppose to one w an MS and no certified experience? Idk, but i think its worth asking.
  • I did not take the time to read the complete thread so this might have been asked already, and my question would be based off my scenario: I am married with a kid, I have been an ATC for 4 years now. I do not have the time to go back to school, I do not have the money to go back to school, and if I did, I do not have the required GPA and I have not taken the GRE to apply for grad school. Are they going to let me get into grad school to get this required masters or are they going to say too bad so sad? I know this is all a discussion but this would mean that I have to go back to take undergrad classes to raise my GPA, and take the GRE and apply for a Grad position which I have no time/money to give. Would I still be allowed to work or will they take away my license? Would this affect me or future ATC's only. I am already currently trying to work on the above scenario to get my Masters and maybe Doctoral but if I cant I want to know if I will still be allowed to work.
  • You will be "Grandfathered" in, so since you already have your degree (BS or BA) and you are certified you will continue on as you have been for the past 4 years. The change only affects students who at the minimum are entering the 6th grade this year. It does not affect any currently certified athletic trainers. I hope this helps!
    Scott L. Bruce, EdD, AT, ATC
    Assistant Professor/Director of Research
    Athletic Training Program
    Wright State University
    3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.
    Dayton, OH 45435
    [email protected]
  • Terricka – You ask some excellent questions. My initial response is: “Where there is a will there is a way!”
    The medical model is feasible at all levels of athletic training and in all work settings. It is being done in some of the industrial sites now, the HS with their clinic outreach are practicing what I call a pseudo-medical model. Where ATs are working in the performing arts or public services/safety are being done through a medical or pseudo-medical model. What is needed is the doctors to step in and say this is the way we need to do this and why. Then do it!
    Regarding the HS AT, many of those ATs in the secondary level have better hours than their college colleagues. Many don’t have to work weekends or they are limited in the number of weekends they do work and many don’t have Sunday activities. Colleges used to be that way, but not anymore. I am not saying the HS ATs don’t work hard. Heck in some regards they work harder because of their patient load. (Can you say raging hormones?) The dual role ATs you are referring to, I assume is the HS AT and also a teacher? There are still some of those model around and I don’t have an answer for you on that practice setting.
    I do not understand your question when you are asking about, “What's the price for an intern w a BS and certified experience as oppose to one w an MS and no certified experience?” If you mean what the compensation is likely to be, then my come back is that from an ATC credential point of view, both the student graduating from an undergraduate curriculum and the student coming from a graduate AT program both are the same. Newly graduated and no “real” experience. Eventually, the undergrad student will go away and only the grad student ATC will remain. That compensation will be what the market says it should be. If you can get away with paying $25,000 and maybe give health benefits then you will continue to do so. That’s business! But if you are either getting a slim pool from which to pick your intern or the quality of those that do come to work for you is poor, then the compensation will rise. It is simple supply and demand.
    The two areas I can see out on the horizon is some sort of regulation, not necessarily accrediting, of internship or residency programs so there is some level of uniformity. The other area is the certification of athletic training facilities. If we intend to be taken seriously as health care providers, then certification of our facilities as “health care facilities” is a logical step at some point.
    Thanks again for the thoughts and questions. I have enjoyed the exchange.
    Scott L. Bruce, EdD, AT, ATC
    Assistant Professor/Director of Research
    Athletic Training Program
    Wright State University
    3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.
    Dayton, OH 45435
    [email protected]
  • I have been reading this thread with a great deal of interest. There have been many excellent comments and thoughts. Having just read the whole thread (and it being almost 10:30 PM, which is a little past my bedtime these days) I can't recall exactly who has said what. That said, a few thoughts of my own. First, last year I sent an op-ed to the NATA News that was fortunate enough to be published. Among the points that I made was that until the AT profession operates on a medical model--particularly y having the ATEPs moved to the health professions/science departments of the universities, that we would still lack the professional credibility that we so desire. The med students, and nursing students and PT students need to sit in class with our students, and walk the same hallways. So I agree with whomever said basically the same thing in this discussion. Second, being at a community college for 32 years I have had many AT students (or techs, aids, or whatever they should be appropriately called in my setting) pass through the doors of my office. I am also proud to say that many of my former students are ATs out in the field. That said I have seen an increasing number of students coming through who are looking to go on to (usually) PT school. I have also had more than a couple of four-year academic advisers tell my transferring students that a degree in 'exercise science' is a more versatile degree for them than AT, and the kids bit! I guess that exercise science is going to provide a better stepping stone to PT than AT (?). Third, just this morning a colleague and I were discussing the transition to entry level MS degree. We almost simultaneously commented that the masters route would bring better students to the profession for many of the reasons stated in previous postings in this thread. Fourth, have you all noticed that many ATEPs' entry GPA requirements are lower than 3.5? Sometimes it's almost embarrassingly lower. I am not an ardent proponent of all healthcare professional programs requiring a 4.0 in order for an applicant to even have a shadow of a shot at admission. This especially when the programs start deciding who gets in by looking to see if the applicant sang in the church choir or filled Christmas baskets. (Not that these things are bad!). But they really don't have much to do with being an AT, or a physician, or a PT. There are plenty of folks with above average smarts who aren't necessarily brilliant, who would make good ATs, docs or PTs. But a student pursuing a health care profession certainly should need to demonstrate above average capabilities as a program entrance requirement! Fifth, I have believed for a long time that there are far too many ATEPs out there. I thought there would have been a significant "shake out" by now-- but there hasn't been as far as I can tell. Cream needs to start rising. This is where I believe that masters programs will force better academic standards and program demands to match. Number six, as far as the salary issue, and the "more jobs for ATs " issue, I believe that these are uncertainties that will simply need to answer themselves in time. However, I bet that the PTs have stats that indicate whether or not advancing from a bachelor's to a master's and then from a master's to a doctorate has made significant differences in their earnings and other positive gains for their profession. (The NATA and BOC need to do much better jobs at tracking these sorts of issues, in my opinion). A look at their stats might give us some indication of the ramifications of our proposed move to a higher entry level degree. Here are two final thoughts for this posting. One is that I believe that AT needs to cut as many ties as possible with the coaching/educational institution culture from which we arose, and as quickly as possible. From a universal change in the departmental location of our ATEPs to how we refer to our professional hierarchy. For instance, stop calling our "assistants" assistants! An AT is nobody's assistant! Assistant coaches take stats at the end of the bench. They get to coach the "lesser skilled" team positions. Some do laundry. Even now, the coaches that I work with see my two staff ATs as something "lesser" because of the institutionally imposed title of "assistant athletic trainer." The second "final" thought--and this is the crazy one, is what do you think of the idea of the creation of something like a PTA, or an AT tech position? I know that this could be counterproductive as far as AT job growth is concerned. But it might help to pragmatically address the challenge of the less-than-big-time athletics programs' limited funds to hire ore than one or two more ATs even when the GAs go away.
    I look forward to continuing this discussion---tomorrow! Now I am hitting the sack so I can be ready to help the kids again tomorrow...

    Bill Buese, MS, ATC
    Johnson County Community College
    Overland Park, KS
    [email protected],edu
    [email protected]

  • There has been an amazing amount of great input! I've noticed that the general consensus if I were to sum everything up basically everyone would agree that the culture of Athletic Training should change right? We need something to shift so we have better work/life balances, we need to shift to a medical model , and before we even go that far we need to do something about our education.


    As an educator what steps do you think as a whole would benefit the growth of our profession so that first and foremost our students are recieving a education that doesn't just prepare them for the worforce but gives them the tools required to succeed in patient care?
    How do we change it so that the curriculums in place graduates better quality Athletic Trainers and at the same time we aren't mass producing water downed talent?
    And lastly, how do we get the universities and colleges involved to include us as medical profesionals and not put us down because of the burnout rate?


    To address your last question, in my opinion going the route of being an AT tech or PTA would not be of true benefit for our profession. We aren't technicians, and going that route of becoming one would belittle the skills that many Athletic Trainers have. The problem that I often see in regards to this is, there is such a great gulf between skill levels in Athletic Trainers. How are we all recieving the "same education" for undergraduate and graduate students yet some Athletic Trainers have no manual skills but are great at being a first responder on sidelines, some aren't the greatest at being a first responder on the sidelines but are great clinicians, some Athletic Trainers can evaluate movement dyfunction well and treat them while others couldn't tell you much about their understanding of the kinetic chain or tying it all together to evaluate and treat their patient , and so on and so forth. The sooner we find out what we can do to bridge that gap between Athletic Trainers who do and those who do not it will make for better opportunities to grow versus going in a direction that wil ultimately send us backwards.


    We have talked alot about how going the route of a Masters degree would not benefit our profession all that much, but lets put a positive spin on it, what do we think that it CAN do for us a profession?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • As a current graduate assistant, I have a lot of mixed emotions and thoughts on the transition to the entry-level Masters. While the change seems to be inevitable, I believe it was a extremely premature. Many of you have presented the negatives behind the Strategic Alliance decision and I agree with each point. I must say, I do not agree with the decision to make this change, YET.

    I believe that the PRACTICE of athletic training needs to be advanced before the education is advanced. Nothing has really changed with the degree change except for...the degree change. Currently, athletic trainers who decided to earn a Master's degree have an advanced education. In other words, they have value added to their certification. Newly certified athletic trainers after the change is implemented will have a Bachelor's level education for their Master's degree. There is no value added.

    I believe we put ourselves in a very tough position moving forward. As you all have mentioned. New AT's will have greater debt without evidence that this change will increase salary. Currently, over 70% of NATA members have their Master's degree. If the profession hasn't seen a salary increase yet, mandating a Master's degree will not force increased pay. If they don't see a salary increase, it may NOT deter them from moving on to PT where there is more money to pay off their debt. Additionally, I don't see many high school graduates choosing a college major that will lead to six figures worth of debt and mediocre starting and mid-career salaries. The GA position is gone; and colleges/high schools/clinics/etc will not spend the money/cannot afford more full time positions. Those positions may be lost to other professions. The cons certainly out-weigh the pros.

    I am a strong believer that the first step in advancing the athletic training profession should have come from other means. Pushing legislation to require athletic trainers at all sporting events. Encouraging athletic trainers to obtain an NPI number to validate themselves as health care professionals. Transitioning to a medical model as opposed to being considered part of the athletic department. There are many other approaches that could have been used to advance the PRACTICE of athletic training and in turn the advanced education would follow.

    I apologize Audric, I know you asked for our positive thoughts on the change, but I'm afraid I do not have any. YET.

  • Greg,

    There is nothing wrong with your statement. It is very hard to find the positive of making this change. I personally agree that the profession needs to advance from both ends of the "sandwich". By that I mean we need to advance in the field, like you said with moving toward a medical model, to the other end with the basic laws that dictate and clarify what it is we do and undergraduate education. Changing the requirements to become an Athletic Trainer to a Masters Degree is too far away from the basic requirements for us to advance. Especially when the undergraduate portion of our education is still so inconsistent on what is being taught and what type of Athletic Trainers are being produced from them. So there is no need for an apology because its tough to see what this change will bring to the table for our community.
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
  • In my personal opinion moving to a Masters level degree is going to harm the profession much more than it will help it in the long run. If we wanted to elevate our educational status somehow in the medical community I think it would have been better for us to develop specialty add on certifications at a Masters level such as an orthopedic specialty or a rehab specialty etc., etc. I think we are turning our back on the secondary schools and fully expect to see the number of graduates accepting jobs at that level drop. I have a question about program design in general. Presently students have upper body and lower body evaluations (some schools also break it down to axial skeleton eval as well) as an undergraduate. Once we go to a Masters level degree where are they going to get these courses from from? Are the Masters programs going to insert these undergraduate class into the degree or are they just going to rename/renumber these courses to make them MAsters level and teach the same content? The typical undergraduate program consists of 5 or 6 semesters of clinical experience (and in some cases 7 or 8) in a typical 2 year Masters program is that now going to drop down to 4 semesters or are they somehow going to keep the same 5 or 6 semesters of clinical experience? With the move to a Masters level degree a student will need to get an undergraduate degree before moving on to the graduate level athletic training degree which means a student could get a degree in any discipline, say economics, before attending a Masters level athletic training program. Doesn't that sort of sound like the old internship route? Unfortunately I think we are missing the boat here and as usual the athletic training profession is following instead of leading. I think this whole move was caused by PT and nursing moving their degrees to a higher level and us thinking we needed to follow suite. In my humble opinion this move will only hurt the profession more than help it.
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