by Heather Baxter
Assistant Sports Editor
The University of La Verne’s Athletic Training program is seeking accreditation from the Commission for the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, and director Marilyn Oliver is confident that the move will improve the existing curriculum and benefit the students.
The move comes after a ruling by the Commission that students desiring to work in Athletic Training professions must graduate from an accredited program. Before this, the University offered what Oliver terms an “internship route,” wherein students must complete the required courses, perform 1500 hours of practical experience under the supervision of a certified Athletic Trainer, obtain a First Aid certificate and get sponsorship from a certified athletic trainer. Only then were the students allowed to pay around $400 to take the National Athletic Trainers Associate Board of Certification exam.
“The Commission decided that there appeared to be a disparity between programs,” said Oliver, who explained that beside the internship route there was a curriculum route that those uncertified schools offered their students for certification.
“After the student had fulfilled all of the requirements, they could pay between $350 and $400 to take the exam and get their certification,” said Oliver.
The Commission’s decision goes into effect in January 2004, and will require that any person sitting for the ATC exam must have graduated from an accredited college.
The decision comes as no surprise to Oliver.
“We’ve been looking into getting accreditation for the past two to three years,” she said. “It wasn’t until last year, when money came into the program that we were able to pursue it further.”
When the extra funds came available, it made it possible for the Athletic Training program to hire new staff members and faculty. With the extra bodies in the department, Oliver was granted release time to pursue the accreditation, with the University’s permission.
The process that the department is currently going through begins with an application for candidacy, which must meet seven major criteria, Oliver said she completed over the summer. The more than 200-page notebook, which included goals of the department, requirements and syllabi from all courses in the major, was submitted to the Joint Review Committee for Athletic Training (JRCAT).
The JRCAT then reviews the notebook and then does one of three things. It approves the application, returns it with instructions on what needs to be altered or denies the candidacy. As the candidacy lasts for two years , if an application is rejected, a program must wait another two years to reapply.
The Athletic Training program here is not expected to hear anything from the JRCAT until December. When the answer comes, it will determine how the department at La Verne will continue in the next few years.
“If we are not granted candidacy, and in turn, granted accreditation, we will continue to offer the courses, but our students will not be able to become nationally certified,” said Oliver.
Oliver also believes that were the University not to be granted accreditation, it would suffer in the long run. Not only would classes need to be downsized, but the program would lose faculty members. She believes that La Verne would not be able to draw students interested in athletic training to the University.
She said she feels that the cost to the University for accreditation is small compared to the monetary loss it would suffer were the athletic training majors not allowed to be nationally accredited. Oliver said she believes that the University had no alternative but to actively seek the approval for accreditation.
Regardless of whether or not the program is granted candidacy, Oliver stresses that she is proud of all of the work that students and staff have committed to the department. The department will receive notification of candidacy in December.