Over the years of working as an Athletic Trainer I've worked in a wide variety of settings; industrial Athletic Training, Wellness, clinical Athletic Training, the high-school setting, the college setting, sports performance Athletic Training, and minor league baseball, hockey,and basketball Athletic Trainer. Regardless of the setting there were the same problems that prevented any advancement that I noticed:
1) The referral system
2) Working for a physical therapy company
3) Athletes/Patients misunderstanding the profession
4) Being overworked, underpaid, and undervalued
Don't get me wrong I have a great passion for what I do and there are plenty of athletes and patients who appreciate their Athletic Trainer, but why isn't it universally understood and compensated appropriately? I have a few theories to why this is.
To the average athlete regardless of the setting, we are free. What I mean by that is, we literally give away our valuable skills and knowledge for free on a daily basis. Could any of your athletes walk into a physical therapy clinic with no appointment, with no money, and with no insurance and get evaluated and treatment? No, it would be completely unheard of to do such a thing. Yet, in the world of Athletic Training it happens everyday, it has been established as the norm. Some would argue that getting paid a salary would equal being reimbursed for our services but my retort to their statement would be in simple math. Take the number of athletes a day you see multiplied by an average cost of of $25.00-$30.00 times 5-7 days a week times how many weeks per month times 12 months or ((athletes seen)30.00 X 5) 4 X 12= (your salary) vs. the average salary of the average Athletic Trainer. Keep in mind this is just an example of cash for service but when you compare the two the gap is undeniable. How do we as professionals bridge that gap? Or is everyone okay with the status quo?
Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES