Throughout the United States, Athletic Trainers are a major means of providing injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation for individuals involved in many different settings. This is not the case for most countries across the world and in fact most places the term "Athletic Trainer" does not even exist. They have no one that takes care of them when they get hurt, no one to create rehabs so they can get back to play or work, and no one to teach them about the importance of nutrition, hydration, and injury care, related to sport performance and personal health.
In recent years, though, the popularity to have American Certified Athletic Trainers travel to countries where the health system is lacking and provide care to those of need, is increasing.
Athletic Trainers now are being recognized as knowledgeable individuals in the health and wellness community that can give assistance to the effort to spread the word about the importance of taking care of oneself. There are many different organizations world wide that offer this opportunity for Athletic Trainers to use their education and knowledge of injuries and medicine oversees to help people who have very little.
As mentioned in the October 2012 edition of NATA News, one Athletic Trainer volunteered to work with the Darfur United soccer team, consisting entirely of refugees from the Darfur genocide. She acted as their Athletic Trainer for the Viva World Cup, in Iraq through a non-profit organization called i-ACT and provided medical supplies, injury care, and hydration and nutritional information to the players on the team. I-ACT works with those affected by genocide, mass atrocities and crimes against humanity by sending supplies, educational materials, and sports equipment. Most of the athletes this ATC was in contact had never even worn soccer cleats, let alone iced an injury or had their ankle taped, a completely different world than what most ATC work in.
Another major organization that gives Athletic Trainers the chance to go abroad to less fortunate countries is Athletes in Action (AIA), a Christian based organization created in the 1960’s. Athlete’s in Actions’ mission is to "minister to and through professionals and students in sports performance fields: giving them the experience of ministry in their field of expertise. AIA has had an impact in 24 countries including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mali, and Honduras through their camps, clinics, and internships. This organization is a great way for ATCs to get their feet when it comes to traveling to other countries. They offer many opportunities in many different countries.
In the past five years or so, it has been more common for Athletic Trainers to pack up their medical kicks and move to places where athletic training has never been heard of. It is important as ATC, ATS, and other health care professionals that we know all the options available for our careers because you never know the population who may need us next.