As Bachelor of Athletic Training programs phase out across the nation in favor of a graduate degree program, Ohio University is ahead of the curve and is currently accepting students to the new Master of Science in Athletic Training program in the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP).
A strategic alliance comprised of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the Board of Certification (BOC) and the NATA Research and Education Foundation studied the field of athletic training for years and decided the appropriate academic degree level for athletic training was at the master’s level.
There were many factors that went into the decision but Chad Starkey, PhD, associate director of the division of athletic training and director of the post-professional athletic training program in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, said, “It’s the depth and breadth of knowledge of what it takes to be an athletic trainer. It’s gone from the old ice and tape first aider to a legitimate healthcare provider. With that comes the onus of responsibility of possessing a commensurate level of knowledge and expertise.”
With the change, all educational programs for athletic training must be offered at the graduate level after the fall of 2022. Ohio University is currently accepting graduate students to begin fall of 2019. The deadline to apply is March 15.
According to Kristine Ensign, PhD, the professional athletic training program director for CHSP, the shift in curriculum allows the program to focus on patient-centered care.
“Instead of being taught in siloed courses, students will be taught in more encompassed courses and learn the whole process at one time instead of in steps along the way,” she said. “Students will be able to focus solely on their professional education instead of having to take general education and other foundational knowledge courses at the same time. Those will have already been completed.”
While anyone with a bachelor’s degree can apply to the program, specific prerequisites are required for the Master of Science in Athletic Training program. Some majors lend themselves to the attainment of those prerequisites. Exercise physiology, biological sciences and psychology have heavy science foundations. Students may also consider the community and public health track or a degree in integrated healthcare studies.
“I think it’s a real positive change for the field because it puts us more in line with our peer health professions,” said Ensign. “Other healthcare providers in the rehabilitative area are at the graduate level of education. It sets us up to provide focused education to our students and not have to worry about other courses.”