The kinesiology department is launching a master’s program in athletic training this August.
Lawrence Potter, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Brian Clocksin, associate dean and professor of kinesiology, have worked with the department to jump start the program in response to new national requirements from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training, or CAATE since 2015.
Starting fall 2022, undergraduate programs will no longer be allowed to admit, enroll or matriculate students into the athletic training major.
Instead, the Athletic Training Strategic Alliance, a body composed of the Board of Certification, CAATE, National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the NATA Research and Education Foundation to advance the athletic training profession, has decided that the master’s level will be the new professional degree level for athletic training.
Students currently enrolled in the University’s undergraduate program will still be eligible to take the Board of Certification exam to become certified athletic trainers since the last cohort will graduate by 2020.
“Since we moved four years before required, there was opportunity to conjoin programs,” Marilyn Oliver, interim chairwoman of the kinesiology department, said.
ULV began the re-accreditation process for the undergraduate athletic training program for the 2017-18 academic year when they decided to create the master’s program, making a single streamlined process to accredit the program at the master’s level.
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Margo Greicar was hired as director of the master’s of athletic training program in 2015 with the intention of building a successful program from the ground up. She was previously the athletic training director at Temple University, where she built the framework for a similar program but did not get to see it up and running.
“Now she can see the fruits of her labor and put a new twist on it,” Oliver said.
Previously, undergraduate students were eligible to apply for the athletic training program during the second semester of their sophomore year. If accepted, the rest of their time at the University would be dedicated to evidence based practice and hands on clinical experience in the athletic training field.
“We want to maintain or exceed a quality clinical education,” Greicar said. “The program is very much in line with the University’s values. It incorporates community engagement, emphasizes leadership and embraces diversity and global citizenship, unlike most athletic training programs.”
The undergraduate and graduate programs will overlap for a few years as they transition, leaving room for both levels of students to learn from and work with each other.
“Graduate students are stereotypically more mature, but the undergrads might have more clinical experience than students coming in from programs at community colleges,” Greicar said.
Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and athletic training clinical coordinator, said that those accepted into this program will realize it is a learning process rather than a competition.
“It’s not about age or what grade you’re in. It’s how ready you are to be a clinician,” Alvarez said.
He added that he hopes undergraduates and master’s students serve as mentors to each other in their clinical experience.
The initiative for this degree change is to produce healthcare providers that can meet the challenges patients will face in the future. Thus, evidence based practice is essential to the new curriculum.
Greicar said she is excited to see students blossom into more confident athletic trainers as she has never seen a curriculum designed the way is for ULV’s new program.
Students in the program must earn Bs or higher in their prerequisite courses to qualify for the Board of Certification exam.
By attending many conferences like the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Convention, Greicar said she learned that undergraduate students in athletic training programs at other schools felt left behind during the transition, and that Chapman University chose to discontinue their program instead of creating a master’s curriculum.
“We have a new, creative innovative curriculum that is distinctive and set apart from regional competitors,” Greicar said. “Our focus was: how do we create a student who’s prepared, qualified, confident and calm in a professional setting.”
The clinical experience in the new program is revamped in that there is a higher expectation of there being more practice time, Alvarez said.
The three semesters will have different emphases. In summer, students will focus on a lower extremity condition, or injury of a lower body part, of their choice and develop a treatment plan that integrates the best tried and true techniques as well as current practices that have evolved alongside injuries.
“It’s unique because you have to use all the tools learned in class up to this point,” Greicar said.
The fall semester will focus on studying the mental and pharmacological aspects of physical injuries. Greicar said that athletic trainers must understand their patients’ personalities and the way they respond to things in order to treat them to their needs.
In spring, students will do a comprehensive project of the entire curriculum.
“They should be able to treat patients with a holistic approach: mind, body and soul,” Greicar said.
A cohort of 10 students is expected to start off the MSAT program, increasing gradually as it gets into full swing. Applications opened Feb. 1 and will close May 1. Students may apply through the Athletic Training Centralized Application System, or ATCAS, which can be accessed through the kinesiology page on the University’s website.
Tyler Evains can be reached at email@example.com.