Guest Editorial: ‘The athletic training position absolutely needs to be regulated by the state of California’
In the following guest editorial, Nicole Dahl offers some thoughts on California’s athletic training regulations (or lack thereof):
Imagine yourself needing a diagnostic blood test. Would you prefer to have your blood drawn by a certified Phlebotomy Technician who has completed a required number of hours of supervised training, has hands-on experience and has passed a written exam, or would you be comfortable allowing anyone who called themselves a “phlebotomist” to take a stab at jabbing you?
Luckily, that is a choice you do not have to make. Laboratory Field Services are regulated by the California Department of Public Health. Those wishing to practice phlebotomy and draw your blood must meet or exceed tiered standards to earn their title and right to practice in the state of California.
A certification process is standard across the board in healthcare. Nursing, dentistry, home health, and radiology are a few of the many regulated healthcare fields in California. In fact, every healthcare profession is controlled by the state save for one, athletic training.
Strange, right? The California Athletic Trainer’s Association (CATA) seems to think so and, seeing as March is National Athletic Training Month, the group is creating a buzz and calling for legislative change concerning the lack of rules and state regulation in their field.
California is the only state in the nation that has absolutely no legal protocols for athletic training professionals. What does this mean and why should you care? Well, if you or anyone you know is an athlete or works with an athletic trainer, it could mean life or death, or, less dramatic, injury or wellness, for you.
Athletic trainers, not to be confused with personal trainers, focus on preventing and treating injuries. While employers may have their own credential requirements for the athletic trainers they hire, such as a college degree or CPR training, the state of California does not regulate the profession which means anyone in the Golden State can call themselves an athletic trainer.
Athletic trainers work at health clubs, physical therapy clinics, on rodeo circuits, at high schools, and on college campuses. Beyond working with athletes and those seeking to get into shape, athletic trainers can be found in both in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation centers.
Concerning high school and college sports, should the team’s athletic trainer, the person making snap decisions about head injuries and hydration levels, be state certified? For Mary Stewart, an athletic trainer here in Humboldt county and mother of two young athletes, it is a no brainer.
“The athletic training position absolutely needs to be regulated by the state of California,” Stewart states. “Right now there are 151 high schools in our state employing non-certified athletic trainers. These people are taking care of our kids, some without any training whatsoever.”
Stewart is a member of CATA and joins the association in the fight for AB-3110, a bill that would bring the athletic training profession up to par with the rest of the healthcare industry, requiring education, national board certification and licensure for all athletic trainers in the state of California and establishing service parameters for the position.
Stewart encourages everyone to call their local and state politicians and ask them to fight for AB-3110. “California has become the go-to state for athletic trainers who are unable to obtain or lose certification in other states,” she declares. “Currently, there are nine states who forbid California athletic trainers to travel and practice in their state, which is a shame because we have an incredible pool of athletic trainer talent here in California. It’s the lack of licensure they have a problem with.”
There are fifteen accredited athletic training undergraduate programs in the nation, seven of which are in the California university system. Why is it that California offers more athletic training education opportunities than any other state, yet remains the only state without certification standards and a licensure program?
According to the CATA, several organizations, including a variety of medical groups, youth safety advocacy organizations, the NCAA, NHL, CIF, National Federation of State High School Associations, are in favor of Athletic Training Licensure. CATA claims that without a state licensure program, there can be no board accountability, a dangerous scenario when taking responsibility for the health of another.
For more information, visit https://ca-at.org and to read the bill in its entirety visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB3110