Athletic trainers help prevent and treat injuries for people of all ages. Their patients and clients include everyone from professional athletes to industrial workers. Recognized by the American Medical Association as allied health professionals, athletic trainers specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. Athletic trainers, as one of the first healthcare providers on the scene when injuries occur, must be able to recognize, evaluate, and assess injuries and provide immediate care when needed. Athletic trainers should not be confused with fitness trainers or personal trainers, who are not healthcare workers, but rather train people to become physically fit.
Athletic trainers try to prevent injuries by educating people on how to reduce their risk for injuries and by advising them on the proper use of equipment, exercises to improve balance and strength, and home exercises and therapy programs. They also help apply protective or injury-preventive devices such as tape, bandages, and braces.
Athletic trainers may work under the direction of a licensed physician, and in cooperation with other healthcare providers. The extent of the direction ranges from discussing specific injuries and treatment options with a physician to performing evaluations and treatments as directed by a physician. Some athletic trainers meet with the team physician or consulting physician once or twice a week; others interact with a physician every day. Athletic trainers often have administrative responsibilities. These may include regular meetings with an athletic director, physician practice manager, or other administrative officer to deal with budgets, purchasing, policy implementation, and other business-related issues.
The industry and individual employer are significant in determining the work environment of athletic trainers. Many athletic trainers work indoors most of the time; others, especially those in some sports-related jobs, spend much of their time working outdoors. The job also might require standing for long periods, working with medical equipment or machinery, and being able to walk, run, kneel, stoop, or crawl. Travel may be required.
Schedules vary by work setting. Athletic trainers in nonsports settings generally have an established schedule—usually about 40 to 50 hours per week—with nights and weekends off. Athletic trainers working in hospitals and clinics may spend part of their time working at other locations doing outreach services. The most common outreach programs include conducting athletic training services and speaking at high schools, colleges, and commercial businesses.
Athletic trainers in sports settings have schedules that are longer and more variable. These athletic trainers must be present for team practices and competitions, which often are on evenings and weekends, and their schedules can change on short notice when games and practices have to be rescheduled. In high schools, athletic trainers who also teach may work 60 to 70 hours a week, or more. In National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I colleges and universities, athletic trainers generally work with one team; when that team's sport is in season, working at least 50 to 60 hours a week is common. Athletic trainers in smaller colleges and universities often work with several teams and have teaching responsibilities. During the off-season, a 40-hour to 50-hour work week may be normal in most settings. Athletic trainers for professional sports teams generally work the most hours per week. During training camps, practices, and competitions, they may be required to work up to 12 hours a day.
There is some stress involved with being an athletic trainer. The work of athletic trainers requires frequent interaction with others. They consult with physicians as well as have frequent contact with athletes and patients to discuss and administer treatments, rehabilitation programs, injury-preventive practices, and other health-related issues. Athletic trainers are responsible for their clients' health, and sometimes have to make quick decisions that could affect the health or career of their clients. Athletics trainers also can be affected by the pressure to win that is typical of competitive sports teams.
|1.||Conduct an initial assessment of an athlete's injury or illness to provide emergency or continued care, and to determine whether they should be referred to physicians for definitive diagnosis and treatment.|
|2.||Evaluate athletes' readiness to play, and provide participation clearances when necessary and warranted.|
|3.||Apply protective or injury preventive devices such as tape, bandages, or braces to body parts such as ankles, fingers, or wrists.|
|4.||Assess and report the progress of recovering athletes to coaches and physicians.|
|5.||Collaborate with physicians to develop and implement comprehensive rehabilitation programs for athletic injuries.|
|6.||Care for athletic injuries using physical therapy equipment, techniques, and medication.|
|7.||Perform general administrative tasks such as keeping records and writing reports.|
|8.||Plan and implement comprehensive athletic injury and illness prevention programs.|
|9.||Instruct coaches, athletes, parents, medical personnel, and community members in the care and prevention of athletic injuries.|
|10.||Travel with athletic teams to be available at sporting events.|
|11.||Inspect playing fields to locate any items that could injure players.|
|12.||Advise athletes on the proper use of equipment.|
|13.||Develop training programs and routines designed to improve athletic performance.|
|14.||Confer with coaches to select protective equipment.|
|15.||Recommend special diets to improve athletes' health, increase their stamina, or alter their weight.|
|16.||File athlete insurance claims and communicate with insurance providers.|
|17.||Perform team-support duties such as running errands, maintaining equipment, and stocking supplies.|
|18.||Lead stretching exercises for team members prior to games and practices.|
|19.||Accompany injured athletes to hospitals.|
|20.||Conduct research and provide instruction on subject matter related to athletic training or sports medicine.|
|21.||Massage body parts to relieve soreness, strains, and bruises.|
|22.||Teach sports medicine courses to athletic training students.|
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