As the Athletic Training profession moves forward we are constantly seeking approval from those we provide service to; coaching staffs, patients/athetes, insurance companies, other medical professionals, and fellow colleagues. Athough we have made strides to be seen as healthcare professionals I submit this query to all Athletic Trainers, are we ready? As a collective group of professionals are we ready to actually take up the full responsibilities of being healthcare professionals? I ask this question because im reminded daily of the many inconsistencies of trying to convince people that Athletic Trainers are qualified by "doing" then fellow Athletic Trainers demonstrate the complete opposite. To me its frustrating because we as a group want all of these advancements in the profession but what happens when we get there and we can't even do the simple things? For example:
-More often than not Athletic Trainers don't keep accurate records whether its evaluation or rehabilitation
-Many of the notes taken by Athletic Trainers are not medical grade quality
-Many Athletic Trainers don't even follow legal documents written by doctors regarding restrictions that athletes have or don't have
-Too many Athletic Trainers do not know or follow HIPAA laws
-Many Athletic Trainers don't comply with OSHA standards
-There is a large quantity of Athletic Trainers who have no manual skills (Graston, gua sha, Astym is not included)
-Most Athletic Trainers work for and refer to Physical Therapists
-Many of us don't even have NPI numbers let alone even know our CPT codes
-Many Athletic Trainers live and die by "Ice and Stim"
We get away with so much because we are seen as a member of the coaching staff and not a healthcare professional. Most people don't even know that we need a degree to become an Athletic Trainer. If they knew we werent a "coach" I know at least 15 Athletic Trainers personally who would be without a license, a certification, and would have been sued by now. So are we ready for the legal ramificications if we are held to a higher standard? We are used to a coach, an AD, an athlete, or a parent being mad at us for doing something wrong. What happens when people consider us qualified healthcare professionals and the lawsuits come? That is a completely different ball game. Don't get me wrong I have a great passion for Athletic Training and believe we can bring way more to the table than we are right now as a group. But like many Marvel fans have heard before "With great power comes great responsibility". So when we want so badly to be respected, have greater chances of advancement, and to be paid more what happens when that time finally comes? Are we as a collective group of professionals ready to truly be considered qualified healthcare professionals?
Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES